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THE    GYPSIES 


BY 


CHARLES  G.  LELAND 

OF  "  THE  ENGLISH  GYPSIES  AND  THEIR  LANGUAGE,"  "  ANGLO-ROMAN?  BALLADS,1 

"HANS  BREITMANN'S  BALLADS,"  Era 


FIFTH    EDITION 


BOSTON 
HOUGHTON,  MIFFLIN  AND   COMPANY 

NEW   YORK  !     11    EAST    SEVENTEENTH    STREET 

Btemtift* 

1888 


SEEN  BY 

PRESERVATION 

SERVICES 

DATE..  'JUL. 1.6.1992^. 


Copyright,  1882, 
CHARLES  G.  LELAHBk 

All  rights  reserved. 


The  Rivfrsidt  Frr.if,  Cambridge: 
•tweotyped  and  Printed  by  II.  0.  Houghton  ft  0» 


PREFACE. 


THE  reader  will  find  in  this  book  sketches  of  ex- 
periences among  gypsies  of  different  nations  by  one 
who  speaks  their  language  and  is  conversant  with 
their  ways.  These  embrace  descriptions  of  the  justly 
famed  musical  gypsies  of  St.  Petersburg  and  Mos- 
cow, by  whom  the  writer  was  received  literally  as 
a  brother ;  of  the  Austrian  gypsies,  especially  those 
composing  the  first  Romany  orchestra  of  that  country, 
selected  by  Liszt,  and  who  played  for  their  friend  as 
they  declared  they  had  never  played  before  for  any 
man  ;  and  also  of  the  English,  Welsh,  Oriental,  and 
American  brethren  of  the  dark  blood  and  the  tents. 
I  believe  that  the  account  of  interviews  with  Amer- 
ican gypsies  will  possess  at  least  the  charm  of  nov- 
elty, but  little  having  as  yet  been  written  on  this 
extensive  and  very  interesting  branch  of  our  nomadic 
population.  To  these  I  have  added  a  characteristic 
letter  in  the  gypsy  language,  with  translation  by  a 
lady,  legendary  stories,  poems,  and  finally  the  sub- 
stance of  two  papers,  one  of  which  I  read  before  the 
British  Philological  Society,  and  the  other  before 


iv  PREFACE. 

the  Oriental  Congress  at  Florence,  in  1878.  Those 
who  study  ethnology  will  be  interested  to  learn  from 
papers,  subsequently  combined  in  an  article  in 
the  u  Saturday  Review,"  that  I  have  definitely  deter- 
mined the  existence  in  India  of  a  peculiar  tribe  of 
gypsies,  who  are  par  eminence  the  Romany s  of  the 
.  and  whose  language  is  there  what  it  is  in  Eng- 
land, the  same  in  vocabulary,  and  the  chief  slang  of 
the  roads.  This  I  claim  as  a  discovery,  having  learned 
it  from  a  Hindoo  who  had  been  himself  a  gypsy  in 
his  native  land.  Many  writers  have  suggested  the 
Jats,.  Banjars,  and  others  as  probable  ancestors  or 
type-givers  of  the  race  ;  but  the  existence  of  the  Rom 
Jthrixclf  iii  India,  bearing  the  distinctive  name  of  Rom, 
has  never  before  been  set  forth  in  any  book  or  by 
any  other  writer.  I  have  also  given  what  may  in 
<>n  be  regarded  as  settling  the  immensely  dis- 
puted origin  of  the  word  "  Zingan,"  by  the  gypsies' 
\>\vn  account  of  its  etymology,  which  was  beyond  all 
question  brought  by  them  from  India. 

In  addition  to  this  I  have,  given  in  a  chapter  cer- 
tain conversations  with  men  of  note,  such  as  Thomas 
Carlyle,  Lord  Lytton.  Mr.  Hoi-Luck,  and  others,  on 

unt   of    ti.  i>d    family   11. 

and  personal  characteristics  of  English  and  American 

Koiuanys,    pn-paivd    for    me   l>y   a    very    famous    old 

iiid  finally  a  chapter  on  tin;  4*  Slielta  Thari," 

or  Tiul;'  .   a  very  curious  jargon   "i1   l.'in- 

i'>ned   before   by  any  writ--, 
Sha  What  this  tongue  /nay  be,  beyond  the 


PREFACE.  v 

fact  that  it  is  purely  Celtic,  and  that  it  does  not  seem 
to  be  identical  with  any  other  Celtic  dialect,  is  un- 
known to  me.  I  class  it  with  the  gypsy,  because  all 
who  speak  it  are  also  acquainted  with  Romany. 

For  an  attempt  to  set  forth  the  tone  or  feeling  in 
which  the  sketches  are  conceived,  I  refer  the  reader 
to  the  Introduction. 

When  I  published  my  "  English  Gypsies  and  their 
Language,"  a  reviewer  declared  that  I  "  had  added 
nothing  to  our "  (that  is,  his)  "  knowledge  on  the 
subject."  As  it  is  always  pleasant  to  meet  with  a 
man  of  superior  information,  I  said  nothing.  And 
as  I  had  carefully  read  everything  ever  printed  on 
the  Romany,  and  had  given  a  very  respectable  collec- 
tion of  what  was  new  to  me  as  well  as  to  all  my 
Romany  rye  colleagues  in  Europe,  I  could  only  grieve 
to  think  that  such  treasures  of  learning  should  thus 
remain  hidden  in  the  brain  of  one  who  had  never  at 
any  time  or  in  any  other  way  manifested  the  posses- 
sion of  an}^  remarkable  knowledge.  Nobody  can  tell 
in  this  world  what  others  may  know,  but  I  modestly 
suggest  that  what  I  have  set  forth  in  this  work,  on 
the  origin  of  the  gypsies,  though  it  may  be  known  to 
the  reviewer  in  question,  has  at  least  never  been  set 
before  the  public  by  anybody  but  myself,  and  that 
it  deserves  further  investigation.  No  account  of  the 
tribes  of  the  East  mentions  the  Rom  or  Trablus, 
and  yet  I  have  personally  met  with  and  thoroughly 
examined  one  of  them.  In  like  manner,  the  "  Shelta 
Thari "  has  remained  till  the  present  day  entirely 


Vi  PREFACE. 

unknown  to  all  writers  on  either  the  languages  or 
the  nomadic  people  of  Great  Britain.  If  we  are  so 
ignorant  of  the  wanderers  among  us,  and  at  our  very 
doors,  it  is  not  remarkable  that  we  should  be  igno- 
rant of  those  of  India. 


CONTENTS. 

Page 

INTRODUCTION 9 

KUSSIAN  GYPSIES 17 

AUSTRIAN  GYPSIES.    1 67 

II.  Austrian  Gypsies  in  Philadelphia      ...  91 
ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 

I.  OatlandsPark 97 

II.  Walking  and  Visiting 119 

III.  CobhamFair 130 

IV.  The  Mixed  Fortunes 145 

V.    Hampton  Races 152 

VI.    Street  Sketches 161 

VII.    Of  Certain  Gentlemen  and  Gypsies       .        .        .172 
WELSH  GYPSIES. 

I.    Mat  Woods  the  Fiddler 189 

II.  The  Pious  Washerwoman 198 

III.  The  Gypsies  at  Aberystwith      ....  207 
AMERICAN  GYPSIES. 

I.     Gypsies  in  Philadelphia         .        .        ...  227 

II.     The  Crocus-Pitcher 241 

III.  Gypsies  in  Camp.     (New  Jersey.)          .        .        .251 

IV.  House  Gypsies  in  Philadelphia  ....  260 
V.    A  Gypsy  Letter 272 


Viii  CONTENTS. 

Page 
GYPSIES  IN  THE  EAST 288 

i  i,s  AM)  FAMILY  CHARACTERISTICS     .        .        .304 
•KII :s  ix  KOMAXY,  WITH  TRANSLATION    .        .          312 

Tin:  <>I;H;I.\  ,,].-  nn;  GYPSIES 331 

i-SY  MAGIC  SPELL 348 

SlIELTA,    THE    TINKERS*   TALK  .  .  354 


INTRODUCTION. 


I  HAVE  frequently  been  asked,  "Why  do  you  take 
an  interest  in  gypsies  ?  " 

And  it  is  not  so  easy  to  answer.  Why,  indeed  ? 
In  Spain  one  who  has  been  fascinated  by  them  is 
called  one  of  the  aficion,  or  affection,  or  "  fancy  ;  "  he  is 
an  aficionado,. or  affected  unto  them,  and  people  there 
know  perfectly  what  it  means,  for  every  Spaniard  is 
at  heart  a  Bohemian.  He  feels  what  a  charm  there 
is  in  a  wandering  life,  in  camping  in  lonely  places, 
under  old  chestnut-trees,  near  towering  cliffs,  al 
pasar  del  arroyo,  by  the  rivulets  among  the  rocks. 
He  thinks  of  the  wine  skin  and  wheaten  cake  when 
one  was  hungry  on  the  road,  of  the  mules  and  tinkling 
bells,  the  fire  by  night,  and  the  cigarito,  smoked  till 
he  fell  asleep.  Then  he  remembers  the  gypsies  who 
came  to  the  camp,  and  the  black-eyed  girl  who  told 
him  his  fortune,  and  all  that  followed  in  the  rosy 
dawn  and  ever  onward  into  starry  night. 

"  Y  se  alegre  el  alma  llena 
De  la  luz  de  esos  luceros." 

And  his  heart  is  filled  with  rapture 
At  the  light  of  those  lights  above. 

This  man  understands  it.  So,  too,  does  many  an 
Englishman.  But  I  cannot  tell  you  why.  Why  do 
I  love  to  wander  on  the  roads  to  hear  the  birds ;  to 


10  INTRODUCTION. 

see  old  chnrch  towers  afar,  rising  over  fringes  of  for- 
est, a  river  and  a  bridge  in  the  foreground,  and  an 

•  •nt  castle  beyond,  with  a  modern  village  spring- 
ing up  about  it,  just  as  at  the  foot  of  the  burg  there 
lies  the  falling  trunk  of  an  old  tree,  around  which 
weeds  and  flowers  are  springing  up,  nourished  by  its 
decay  ?  Why  love  these  better  than  pictures,  and 
with  a  more  than  fine-art  feeling  ?  Because  on  the 
roads,  among  such  scenes,  between  the  hedge-rows 
and  by  the  river,  I  find  the  wanderers  who  properly 
inhabit  not  the  houses  but  the  scene,  not  a  part  but 
the  whole.  These  are  the  gypsies,  who  live  like  the 
birds  and  hares,  not  of  the  house-born  or  the  town- 
bred,  but  free  and  at  home  only  with  nature. 

I  am  at  some  pleasant  watering-place,  no  matter 
where.  Let  it  be  Torquay,  or  Ilf racombe,  or  Aberyst- 
with,  or  Bath,  or  Bournemouth,  or  Hastings.  I 
find  out  what  old  churches,  castles,  towns,  towers, 
manors,  lakes,  forests,  fairy-wells,  or  other  charms  of 
England  lie  within  twenty  miles.  Then  I  take  my 
staff  and  sketch-book,  and  set  out  on  my  day's  pil- 
grimage. In  the  distance  lie  the  lines  of  the  shining 

\vith  ships  sailing  to  unknown  lands.     Those  who 
live  in   tin-in  are   the  Bohemians  of  the  sea,  homing 
while   roaming,  sleeping  as  they  go,  even  as  gypsies 
dwell  on  wheels.      And  if   you  look  wistfully  at  1 
ships  far  ofT  and  out  at    sea   with   the  sun  upon  their 

.  and  wonder  what  quaint  mysteries  of  life  they 
hide,  verily  you  are  not  far  from  being  affected  or 
elected  unto  the  Romany.  And  if,  when  you  see 
tin-  wild  birds  on  the,  win^,  wending  their  way  to 
the  South,  and  wish  that  you  could  ily  with  them, 
—  ;i'  anywhere  over  the  world  and  into  ad- 

you  are  not  far  in  spirit  from   the 


I NTR  0  D  UCTION.  1 1 

kingdom  of  Bohemia  and  its  seven  castles,  in  the 
deep  windows  of  which  JEolian  wind-harps  sing  for- 
ever. 

Now,  as  you  wander  along,  it  may  be  that  in  the 
wood  and  by  some  grassy  nook  you  will  hear  voices, 
and  see  the  gleam  of  a  red  garment,  and  then  find  a 
man  of  the  roads,  with  dusky  wife  and  child.  You 
speak  one  word,  "  Sarishan  ! "  and  you  are  introduced. 
These  people  are  like  birds  and  bees,  they  belong  to 
out-of-doors  and  nature.  If  you  can  chirp  or  buzz 
a  little  in  their  language  and  know  their  ways,  you 
will  find  out,  as  you  sit  in  the  forest,  why  he  who 
loves  green  bushes  and  mossy  rocks  is  glad  to  fly 
from  cities,  and  likes  to  be  free  of  the  joyous  citizen- 
ship of  the  roads,  and  everywhere  at  home  in  such 
boon  company. 

When  I  have  been  a  stranger  in  a  strange  town,  I 
have  never  gone  out  for  a  long  walk  without  know- 
ing that  the  chances  were  that  I  should  meet  within 
an  hour  some  wanderer  with  whom  I  should  have  in 
common  certain  acquaintances.  These  be  indeed 
humble  folk,  but  with  nature  and  summer  walks  they 
make  me  at  home.  In  merrie  England  I  could  nowhere 
be  a  stranger  if  I  would,  and  that  with  people  who 
cannot  read  ;  and  the  English-born  Romany  rye,  or 
gentleman  speaking  gypsy,  would  in  like  manner  be 
everywhere  at  home  in  America.  There  was  a  gypsy 
family  always  roaming  between  Windsor  and  Lon- 
don, and  the  first  words  taught  to  their  youngest  child 
were  "  Romany  rye  ! '  and  these  it  was  trained  to 
address  to  me.  The  little  tot  came  up  to  me,  —  I  had 
never  heard  her  speak  before,  —  a  little  brown-faced, 
black-eyed  thing,  and  said,  "  How-do,  Omany  'eye  ?  ' 
and  great  was  the  triumph  and  rejoicing  and  laughter 


12  INTRODUCTION. 

of  the  in  oilier  and  father  and  all  the  little  tribe.  To 
amiliiir  with  these  wanderers,  who  live  by  dale 
and  down,  is  like  having  the  bees  come  to  you,  as 
th.-y  did  to  the  Dacian  damsel,  whose  death  they 
mourned  ;  it  is  like  the  attraction  of  the  wild  deer  to 
the  fair  Genevieve ;  or  if  you  know  them  to  be  danger- 
ous outlaws,  as  some  are,  it  is  like  the  affection  of 
serpents  and  other  wild  things  for  those  whom  nature 
lias  made  their  friends,  and  who  handle  them  with- 
out fear.  They  are  human,  but  in  their  lives  they 
are  between  man  as  he  lives  in  houses  and  the  bee 
and  bird  and  fox,  and  I  cannot  help  believing  that 
those  who  have  no  sympathy  with  them  have  none 
fur  the  forest  and  road,  and  cannot  be  rightly  familiar 
with  the  witchery  of  wood  and  wold.  There  are 
many  ladies  and  gentlemen  who  can  well-nigh  die  of 
a  sunset,  and  be  enraptured  with  "  bits "  of  color, 
and  captured  with  scenes,  and  to  whom  all  out-of- 
>erfect  as  though  it  were  painted  by 
Millais,  yet  to  whom  the  bee  and  bird  and  gypsy 
and  red  Indian  ever  remain  in  their  true  inner  life 
igers,  And  just,  as  strange  to  them,  in  one  sense, 
68  in  whieh  these  creatures  dwell;  for 
who  see  in  them  only  pictures,  though  they  be 
by  Claude  and  Turner,  can  never  behold  in  them 
the,  fairy-land  of  childhood.  Only  in  Ruysdael  and 
Salvator  Rosa  and  the.  great  unconscious  artists 
lurks  the  spell  of  the  Romany,  and  this  spell  is  un- 
f»'lt  by  Mr.  Cimal'iie  lirown.  The  child  and  the 
HO  words  in  which  to  express  their  sense 
of  nature  and  its  charm,  but  they  have  this  sense, 
und  ther  .-,  ]u>,  Mnjiiiring  culture, 

rudually  disappearing  from  the 
d,  just  as  the  old  delicately  sensuous,  naive,  pic- 


INTRODUCTION.  13 

turesque  type  of  woman's  beauty — the  perfection  of 
natural  beauty  —  is  rapidly  vanishing  in  every  coun- 
try, and  being  replaced  by  the  mingled  real  and  un- 
real attractiveness  of  "  cleverness,"  intellect,  and  fash- 
ion. No  doubt  the  newer  tend  to  higher  forms  of 
culture,  but  it  is  not  without  pain  that  he  who  has 
been  "  in  the  spirit "  in  the  old  Sabbath  of  the  soul, 
and  in  its  quiet,  solemn  sunset,  sees  it  all  vanishing. 
It  will  all  be  gone  in  a  few  years.  I  doubt  very  much 
whether  it  will  be  possible  for  the  most  unaffectedly 
natural  writer  to  preserve  any  of  its  hieroglyphics  for 
future  Champollions  of  sentiment  to  interpret.  In 
the  coming  days,  when  man  shall  have  developed  new 
senses,  and  when  the  blessed  sun  himself  shall  per- 
haps have  been  supplanted  by  some  tremendous  elec- 
trical light,  and  the  rnoon  be  expunged  altogether  as 
interfering  with  the  new  arrangements  for  gravity, 
there  will  doubtless  be  a  new  poetry,  and  art  become 
to  the  very  last  degree  self-conscious  of  its  cleverness, 
artificial  and  impressional ;  yet  even  then  weary  schol- 
ars will  sigh  from  time  to  time,  as  they  read  in  our 
books  of  the  ancient  purple  seas,  and  how  the  sun 
went  down  of  old  into  cloud-land,  gorgeous  land,  and 
then  how  all  dreamed  away  into  night ! 

Gypsies  are  the  human  types  of  this  vanishing, 
direct  love  of  nature,  of  this  mute  sense  of  rural 
romance,  and  of  al  fresco  life,  and  he  who  does  not 
recognize  it  in  them,  despite  their  rags  and  dis- 
honesty, need  not  pretend  to  appreciate  anything 
more  in  Callot's  etchings  than  the  skillful  manage- 
ment of  the  needle  and  the  acids.  Truly  they  are  but 
rags  themselves  ;  the  last  rags  of  the  old  romance 
which  connected  man  with  nature.  Once  romance 
was  a  splendid  mediaeval  drama,  colored  and  gemmed 


14  INTRODUCTION. 

with  chivalry,  minnesong,  bandit-flashes,  and  waving 
plumes  ;  now  there  remain  but  a  few  tatters.  Yes, 
IK!  foolish  then,  but  there  are  per- 
ishing with  the  wretched  fragments  of  the  red  Indian 
tribes  mythologies  as  beautiful  as  those  of  the  (Jreek 
or  Norseman  ;  and  there  is  also  vanishing  with  the 
\  an  unexpressed  mythology,  which  those  who 
to  come  after  us  would  gladly  recover.  Would 
we  not  have  been  pleased  if  one  of  the  thousand  Latin 
men  of  letters  whose  works  have  been  preserved  had 
told  us  how  the  old  Etruseans,  then  still  living  in 
mountain  villages,  spoke  and  habited  and  customed  ? 
l>ut  oh  that  there  had  overlived  of  old  one  man  who, 
noting  how  feelings  and  sentiments  ehauged,  tried  to 
BO  set  forth  the  souls  of  his  time  that  after-comers 
might  understand  what  it  was  which  inspired  their 

In  the  Sanskrit  humorous  romance  of  "  Baital  Pa- 
'."  or  King  Vikrani  and  the  Vampire,  twenty-five 
different  and   disconnected  trifling  stories   serve  col- 
lectively to  illustrate  in  (he,  most  pointed  manner  the 
hig!;<  i    of  wisdom.      In  this  book  th< 

and  the  scenes  which  surround   them,  are   intended  to 
-I)  of  freedom  and   nature.      Never  were 
>iis  ninn-  needed   than   at   present.      I   do  not 
!iat  culture    is    opposed    to    the  percept  :<M1  of   nat- 
I    would    show    with    all    my     power    that     the 
higher  Miir  culture   the    nmre  v  :dly  qualified 

!om.      BII  must 

pened    for    this,  and    unfortunately   the   gat« 

few,  while   Philistinism  in    every   form 
inaK  v  opening  to  the 

i    of   delight. 

gypsy  is  one  of  many  links  which  connect  the 


INTRODUCTION.  15 

simple  feeling  of  nature  with  romance.  During  the 
Middle  Ages  thousands  of  such  links  and  symbols 
united  nature  with  religion.  Thus  Conrad  von 
Wiirtzburg  tells  in  his  "  Goldene  Schmiede  "  that  the 
parrot  which  shines  in  fairest  grass-green  hue,  and 
yet  like  common  grass  is  never  wet,  sets  forth  the  Vir- 
gin, who  bestowed  on  man  an  endless  spring,  and  yet 
remained  unchanged.  So  the  parrot  and  grass  and 
green,  and  shimmering  light  all  blended  in  the  ideal 
of  the  immortal  Maid-Mother,  and  so  the  bird  ap- 
pears in  pictures  by  Van  Eyck  and  Diirer.  To  me 
the  gypsy-parrot  and  green  grass  in  lonely  lanes  and 
the  rain  and  sunshine  all  mingle  to  set  forth  the  in- 
expressible purity  and  sweetness  of  the  virgin  parent, 
Nature.  For  the  gypsy  is  parrot-like,  a  quaint  pil- 
ferer, a  rogue  in  grain  as  in  gften  ;  for  green  was 
his  favorite  garb  in  olden  time  in  England,  as  it  is 
'  to-day  in  Germany,  where  he  who  breaks  the  Rom- 
any law  may  never  dare  on  heath  to  wear  that  fatal 
fairy  color. 

These  words  are  the  key  to  the  following  book,  in 
which  I  shall  set  forth  a  few  sketches  taken  during 
my  rambles  among  the  Romany.  The  day  is  coining 
when  there  will  be  no  more  wild  parrots  nor  wild 
wanderers,  no  wild  nature,  and  certainly  no  gypsies. 
Within  a  very  few  years  in  the  city  of  Philadelphia, 
the  English  sparrow,  the  very  cit  and  cad  of  birds, 
has  driven  from  the  gardens  all  the  wild,  beautiful 
feathered  creatures  whom,  as  a  boy,  I  knew.  The 
fire-flashing  scarlet  tanager  and  the  humming-bird, 
the  yellow-bird,  blue-bird,  and  golden  oriole,  are 
now  almost  forgotten,  or  unknown  to  city  children. 
So  the  people  of  self-conscious  culture  and  the  mart 
and  factory  are  banishing  the  wilder  sort,  and  it 


16  /. INTRODUCTION. 

ri^lit.  mid  so  it  must  be,  and  therewith  basta  ! 

i don  reviewer  said  when  I  asserted  in 

a  book  that  the  child  was  perhaps  born  who  would 

-i7Psy»  "  Somehow  we  feel  sorry  for  that 

child," 


THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES. 


IT  is,  I  believe,  seldom  observed  that  the  world 
is  so  far  from  having  quitted  the  romantic  or  senti- 
mental for  the  purely  scientific  that,  even  in  science 
itself,  whatever  is  best  set  forth  owes  half  its  charm 
to  something  delicately  and  distantly  reflected  from 
the  forbidden  land  of  fancy.  The  greatest  reasoners 
and  writers  on  the  driest  topics  are  still  "  genial," 
because  no  man  ever  yet  had  true  genius  who  did  not 
feel  the  inspiration  of  poetry,  or  mystery,  or  at  least 
of  the  unusual.  We  are  not  rid  of  the  marvelous 
or  curious,  arid,  if  we  have  not  yet  a  science  of  curi- 
osities, it  is  apparently  because  it  lies  for  the  present 
distributed  about  among  the  other  sciences,  just  as 
in  small  museums  illuminated  manuscripts  are  to  be 
.found  in  happy  family  union  with  stuffed  birds  or 
minerals,  and  with  watches  and  snuff-boxes,  once  the 
property  of  their  late  majesties  the  Georges.  Until 
such  a  science  is  formed,  the  new  one  of  ethnology 
may  appropriately  serve  for  it,  since  it  of  all  presents 
most  attraction  to  him  who  is  politely  called  the  gen- 
eral reader,  but  who  should  in  truth  be  called  the 
man  who  reads  the  most  for  mere  amusement.  For 
Ethnology  deals  with  such  delightful  material  as 
primeval  kumbo-cephalic  skulls,  and  appears  to  her 
votaries  arrayed,  not  in  silk  attire,  but  in  strange  frag- 
a 


18  THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES. 

ments  of  leather  from  ancient  Irish  graves,  or  in  cloth 
from  Lacustrine  villages.  She  glitters  with  the  quaint 
!rv  of  the  first  Italian  race,  whose  ghosts,  if  they 
wail  over  the  u  find,"  "speak  in  a  language  man 
knows  no  more."  She  charms  us  with  etchings  or 

•  •hings  of  mammoths  on  mammoth-bone,  and  in- 

nlore  mysterious  caves,  to  picnic  among 
ilithic  monuments,  and  speculate  on  pictured 
Scottish  stones.  In  short,  she  engages  man  to  inves- 
tigate his  ancestry,  a  pursuit  which  presents  charms 
even  to  the  illiterate,  and  asks  us  to  find  out  facts 
concerning  works  of  art  which  have  interested  every- 
body in  every  age. 

Ad  interim,  before  the  science  of  curiosities  is  seg- 
regated from  that  of  ethnology,  I  may  observe  that 
one  of  the  marvels  in  the  latter  is  that,  among  all 
the  subdivisions  of  the  human  race,  there  are  only 
two  which  have  been,  apparently  from  their  begin- 
ning, set  apart,  marked  and  cosmopolite,  ever  living 
iig  others,    and   yet    reserved    unto    themselves. 
These   are    the    Jew   and    the   gypsy.     From    time 
wliorcof    history    hath    naught  to  the  contrary,    the 
.  as  liT-  himself  holds  in  simple  faith,  the  first 
man.     lied   Earth,   Adam,  was   a  Jew,   and  the  old 
i  in  be  a  peculiar  people  has  been  curiously  con- 
firmed by  th'  >li nary  genius  and  influence  of 
.    and    by   their    boundless   wanderings.      Go 
when-    we   may,   we   find    the   Jew  —  has  any  other 

For  whciwer  Jew  lias  e;one,  there,  too, 

•  nil    the  •  lie   nmre  ancient, 
but  .                 authentic,  origin  of  the  Romany  is  lost  in 

.11  record,  and,  strictly  speaking,  his  is  a 
prehistoric  caste.     Among  the  hundred  and  fifty  wan 


THE  RUSSIAN   GYPSIES.  19 

dering  tribes  of  India  and  Persia,  some  of  them  Tu- 
ranian, some  Aryan,  and  others  mixed,  it  is  of  course 
difficult  to  identify  the  exact  origin  of  the  European 
gypsy.  One  thing  we  know :  that  from  the  tenth  to 
the  twelfth  century,  and  probably  much  later  on, 
India  threw  out  from  her  northern  half  a  vast  mul- 
titude of  very  troublesome  indwellers.  What  with 
Buddhist,  Brahman,  and  Mohammedan  wars,  —  in- 
vaders outlawing  invaded,  —  the  number  of  oiii-caste* 
became  alarmingly  great.  To  these  the  Jats,  who, 
according  to  Captain  Burton,  constituted  the  main 
stock  of  our  gypsies,  contributed  perhaps  half  their 
entire  nation.  Excommunication  among  the  Indian 
professors  of  transcendental  benevolence  meant  social 
death  and  inconceivable  cruelty.  Now  there  are 
many  historical  indications  that  these  outcasts,  before 
leaving  India,  became  gypsies,  which  was  the  most 
natural  thing  in  a  country  where  such  classes  had 
already  existed  in  very  great  numbers  from  early 
times.  And  from  one  of  the  lowest  castes,  which 
still  exists  in  India,  and  is  known  as  the  Dom,1  the 
emigrants  to  the  West  probably  derived  their  name 
and  several  characteristics.  The  Dom  burns  the 
dead,  handles  corpses,  skins  beasts,  and  performs 
other  functions,  all  of  which  were  appropriated  by, 
and  became  peculiar  to,  gypsies  in  several  countries 
in  Europe,  notably  in  Denmark  and  Holland,  for 
several  centuries  after  their  arrival  there.  The  Dom 

1  From  the  observations  of  Frederic  Drew  ( The  Northern  Barrier 
of  India,  London,  1877)  there  can  be  little  doubt  that  the  Dom,  or 
Dum,  belong  to  the  pre-Aryan  race  or  races  of  India.  "  They  are 
described  in  the  Shastras  as  Sopukh,  or  Dog-Eaters"  (Types  of  In 
dia).  I  have  somewhere  met  with  the  statement  that  the  Dom  was 
pre-Aryan,  but  allowed  to  rank  as  Hindoo  on  account  of  services  ren- 
dered to  the  early  conquerors. 


20  THE  RUSSIA  IKS. 

of  tlu>  present  day  also  sells  baskets,  and  wanders 
\vitli  a  tent;  he  is  altogether  gypsy.  It  is  remark- 
able that  he,  living  in  a  hot  climate,  drinks  ardent 
spir:  -ess,  being  by  no  means  a  ''temperate 

Hindoo,"  and  that  even  in  extreme  old  age  his  hair 
seldom    turns    white,    which  is    a  noted    peculiarity 
among  our  own  gypsies  of  pure  blood.     I  know  and 
often  seen  a  gypsy  woman,  nearly  a  hundred 
•a  old,  whose  curling  hair  is  black,  or  hardly  per- 
:l)ly  changed.     It  is  extremely  probable  that  the 
Dom,  mentioned  as  a  caste  even  in  the  Shastras,  gave 
the  name  to  the  Rom.     The  Dom  calls  his  wife  a 
Doinni,  and  being  a  Dom  is  "  Domnipana."     In  Eng- 
lish  gypsy,  the  same  words  are  expressed  by  Rom, 
•/,  and  romn'tjx-u.     D,  be  it  observed,  very  often 
chai  in  its  transfer  from  Hindoo  to  Romany. 

Tims  '/'>/,  "a  wooden  spoon,"  becomes  in  gypsy  roi, 
mi    known    to   every  tinker  in    London.     But, 
while  this  was  probably  the  origin  of  the  word  Rom, 
then  :il)sc(jnent    reasons  for  its  continuance. 

Among    the    (.1ophts,    who   were    more    abundant    in 
:>i   when  (he  first  gypsies  went  there,  the  word 
for  man   is  romi,  and  after  leaving  Greece  and  the 
nl,  or  Hum,  it  would  be  natural  for  the  wander- 
••alled  Jimm'.     But  the  Dom  was  in  all  prob- 
ability th"  parent  stock  of  the  gypsy  race,  though 
the  latter  received   vast    accessions   from   many  other 
I   call   attention    to   this,  since  it  has  always 
held,  and   sensibly  enough,   that  the   mere   fact 
•••iking   Hindi-Persian,  or  the  oldest 
L,   including  many  Sanskrit   terms,   does 
Indian  or  Aryan   origin,  any  more   than 
:en    by   American    negroes   proves   a 
it.     But  if  the  Horn  can  be  identified 


THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES.  21 

w\ tli  the  Dom — and  the  circumstantial  evidence,  it 
must  be  admitted,  is  very  strong — but  little  remains 
to  seek,  since,  according  to  the  Shastras,  the  Doms 
are  Hindoo. 

Among  the  tribes  whose  union  formed  the  Euro- 
pean gypsy  was,  in  all  probability,  that  of  the  Nats, 
consisting  of  singing  and  dancing  girls  and  male  mu- 
sicians and  acrobats.  Of  these,  we  are  told  that  not 
less  than  ten  thousand  lute-players  and  minstrels,  un- 
der  the  name  of  Luri,  were  once  sent  to  Persia  as  a 
present  to  a  king,  whose  land  was  then  without  mu- 
sic or  song.  This  word  Luri  is  still  preserved.  The 
saddle-makers  and  leather-workers  of  Persia  are  called 
Tsingani ;  they  are,  in  their  way,  low  caste,  and  a 
kind  of  gypsy,  and  it  is  supposed  that  from  them  are 
possibly  derived  the  names  Zingan,  Zigeuner,  Zin- 
garo,  etc.,  by  which  gypsies  are  known  in  so  many 
lands.  From  Mr.  Arnold's  late  work  on  "  Persia," 
the  reader  may  learn  that  the  Eeli,  who  constitute 
the  majority  of  the  inhabitants  of  the  southern  por- 
tion of  that  country,  are  Aryan  nomads,  and  appar- 
ently gypsies.  There  are  also  in  India  the  Banjari, 
or  wandering  merchants,  and  many  other  tribes,  all 
spoken  of  as  gypsies  by  those  who  know  them. 

As  regards  the  great  admixture  of  Persian  with 
Hindi  in  good  Romany,  it  is  quite  unmistakable, 
though  I  can  recall  no  writer  who  has  attached  suffi- 
cient importance  to  a  fact  which  identifies  gypsies 
with  what  is  almost  preeminently  the  land  of  gyp- 
sies. I  once  had  the  pleasure  of  taking  a  Nile 

journey  in  company  with  Prince  S ,  a  Persian, 

and  in  most  cases,  when  I  asked  my  friend  what  this 
or  that  gypsy  word  meant,  lie  gave  me  its  correct 
meaning,  after  a  little  thought,  and  then  added,  in 
his  imperfect  English,  "  What  for  you  want  to  know 


£2  THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES. 

Buch  word  ?  —  that  old  word  —  that  no  more  used. 
Only  common  people  —  old  peasant-woman  —  use 
that  word —  gentleman  no  want  to  know  him."  But 
I  did  want  to  know  "  him  "  very  much.  I  can  re- 
member that  one  night,  when  our  Ion  prince  had  thus 
held  forth,  we  had  dancing  girls,  or  Almeh,  on  board, 
and  one  was  very  young  and  pretty.  I  was  told  that 
she  was  gypsy,  but  she  spoke  no  Romany.  Yet  her 
panther  eyes  and  serpent  smile  and  beaute  du  diable 
were  not  Egyptian,  but  of  the  Indian,  kalo-ratt,  —  the 
dark  blood,  which,  once  known,  is  known  forever. 
I  forgot  her,  however,  for  a  long  time,  until  I  went 
to  Moscow,  when  she  was  recalled  by  dancing  and 
smiles,  of  which  I  will  speak  anon. 

I  was  sitting  one  day  by  the  Thames,  in  a  gypsy 
tent,  when  its  master,  Joshua  Cooper,  now  dead, 
pointing  to  a  swan,  asked  me  for  its  name  in  gypsy. 
I  replied,  "Boropappin" 

"  No,  rya.  Boro  pappin  is  '  a  big  goose.'  Sdkkti 
is  the  real  gypsy  word.  It  is  very  old,  and  very  few 
Romany  know  it." 

A  few  days  after,  when  my  Persian  friend  was 
dining  with  me  at  the  Langham  Hotel,  I  asked  him 
if  he  knew  what  Sakku  meant.  By  way  of  reply, 
lie,  not  being  able  to  recall  the  English  word,  waved 
his  arms  in  wonderful  pantomime,  indicating  some 
enormous  winged  creature  ;  and  then,  looking  into 
t.h<«  distance,  and  pointing  as  if  to  some  far-vanishing 
object,  as  boys  do  when  they  declaim  Bryant's  ad- 
"  To  a  Water-Fowl,"  said,— 

"  Sakku  —  one  ver'  big  bird,  like  one  swen  —  but 

1I(^  like  the  man  who  carry  too  much 

irs1  his  head  in  Constantinople.     That 

this  gentleman's  dialect  signified  up  or  upon,  like  top 
nd«  in  Pidgin-English. 


THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES.  23 

bird  all  same  that  man.     He  sakkia  all  same  -wheel 
that  you  see  get  water  up-stairs  in  Egypt." 

This  was  explanatory,  but  far  from  satisfactory. 
The  prince,  however,  was  mindful  of  me,  and  the 
next  day  I  received  from  the  Persian  embassy  the 
word  elegantly  written  in  Persian,  with  the  transla- 
tion, "  a  pelican"  Then  it  was  all  clear  enough,  for 
the  pelican  bears  water  in  the  bag  under  its  bill. 
When  the  gypsies  came  to  Europe  they  named  ani- 
mals after  those  which  resembled  them  in  Asia.  A 
dog  they  called  juckal,  from  a  jackal,  and  a  swan 
sdkku,  or  pelican,  because  it  so  greatly  resembles  it. 
The  Hindoo  bandarus,  or  monkey,  they  have  changed 
to  bombaros,  but  why  Tom  Cooper  should  declare  that 
it  is  pugasah,  or  puJckus-asa,  I  do  not  know.1  As 
little  can  I  conjecture  the  meaning  of  the  prefix  mod, 
or  mode,  which  I  learned  on  the  road  near  Weymouth 
from  a  very  ancient  tinker,  a  man  so  battered,  tattered, 
seamed,  riven,  and  wrinkled  that  he  looked  like  a  pet- 
rifaction. He  had  so  bad  a  barrow,  or  wheel,  that 
I  wondered  what  he  could  do  with  it,  and  regarded 
him  as  the  very  poorest  man  I  had  ever  seen  in  Eng- 
land, until  his  mate  came  up,  an  alter  ego,  so  excel- 
lent in  antiquity,  wrinkles,  knobbiness,  and  rags  that 
he  surpassed  the  vagabond  pictures  not  only  of  Cal- 
lot,  Dore",  and  Goya,  but  even  the  unknown  Spanish 
maker  of  a  picture  which  I  met  with  not  long  since 
for  sale,  and  which  for  infinite  poverty  defied  any- 
thing I  ever  saw  on  canvas.  These  poor  men,  who 
seemed  at  first  amazed  that  I  should  speak  to  them 
at  all,  when  I  spoke  Romany  at  once  called  me 
"  brother."  When  I  asked  the  younger  his  name, 

1  Puccasa,  Sanskrit.    Low,  inferior.    Given  by  Pliny  E.  Chase  in  hia 
SansJcj-it  Analogues  as  the  root-word  for  several  inferior  animals. 


24  THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES. 

he  sank  his  voice  to  a  whisper,  and,  with  a  furtive 
air,  said,  — 

"J\((wlo,  —  Lovel,  you  know." 

"  What  do  you  call  yourself  in  the  way  of  busi- 
ness?" I  asked.  "  Katsamengro^  I  suppose." 

Now  Katsamengro  means  scissors-master. 

"  That  is  a  very  good  word.    But  chiv6  is  deeper." 

"  Chiv6  means  a  knife-man  ?  " 

"  Yes.  But  the  deepest  of  all,  master,  is  Mod- 
angarengro.  For  you  see  that  the  right  word  for 
coals  is  n't  wongur,  as  Romanys  generally  say,  but 
Anffdra" 

Now  angdra,  as  Pott  and  Benfey  indicate,  is  pure 
Sanskrit  for  coals,  and  angarengro  is  a  worker  in. 
coals,  but  what  mod  means  I  know  not,  and  should 
be  glad  to  be  told. 

I  think  it  will  be  found  difficult  to  identify  the 
European  gypsy  with  any  one  stock  of  the  wander- 
ing races  of  India.  Among  those  who  left  that 
try  were  men  of  different  castes  and  different 
.  varying  from  the  pure  northern  invader  to 
tli«-  no^ro-liko  southern  Indian.  In  the  Danubian 
principalities  there  are  at  the  present  day  three 
kinds  of  gypsies:  one  very  dark  and  barbarous,  an- 
r  light  brown  and  more  intelligent,  and  the  third, 
or  €lit»\  of  yellow-pine  complexion,  as  American  boys 
char,  ihr  hue  of  quadroons.  Kven  in  Eng- 

land Ihi-r  ij^hl  haired  and  curly-haired  Rom- 

0  indicating  not  a  difference  resulting 
from  whii.-  admixture,  but  entirely  different  original 

Ii  \\ill.  I  trn-t,  ho  admitted,  even  from  these  re- 
marks, that,  Romanology,  or  that  subdivision  of  eth- 
nology which  treats  of  gypsies,  is  both  practical  and 


THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES.  25 

curious.  It  deals  with  the  only  race  except  the  Jew, 
which  has  penetrated  into  every  village  which  Euro- 
pean civilization  has  ever  touched.  He  who  speaks 
Romany  need  be  a  stranger  in  few  lands,  for  on 
every  road  in  Europe  and  America,  in  Western  Asia, 
and  even  in  Northern  Africa,  he  will  meet  those  with 
whom  a  very  few  words  may  at  once  establish  a  pe- 
culiar understanding.  For,  of  all  things  believed  in 
by  this  widely  spread  brotherhood,  the  chief  is  this,  — 
that  he  who  knows  the  jib,  or  language,  knows  the 
ways,  and  that  no  one  ever  attained  these  without 
treading  strange  paths,  and  threading  mysteries  un- 
known to  the  Gorgios,  or  Philistines.  And  if  he  who 
speaks  wears  a  good  coat,  and  appears  a  gentleman, 
let  him  rest  assured  that  he  will  receive  the  greeting 
which  all  poor  relations  in  all  lands  extend  to  those 
of  their  kin  who  have  risen  in  life.  Some  of  them, 
it  is  true,  manifest  the  winsome  affection  which  is 
based  on  great  expectations,  a  sentiment  largely  de- 
veloped among  British  gypsies  ;  but  others  are  hon- 
estly proud  that  a  gentleman  is  not  ashamed  of  them. 
Of  this  latter  class  were  the  musical  gypsies,  whom 
I  met  in  Russia  during  the  winter  of  1876  and  1877, 
and  some  of  them  again  in  Paris  during  the  Expo- 
sition of  1878. 

ST.   PETERSBURG. 

There  are  gypsies  and  gypsies  in  the  world,  for 
there  are  the  wanderers  on  the  roads  and  the  secret 
dwellers  in  towns  ;  but  even  among  the  aficionados, 
or  Romany  ryes,  by  whom  I  mean  those  scholars 
who  are  fond  of  studying  life  and  language  from  the 
people  themselves,  very  few  have  dreamed  that  there 
exist  communities  of  gentlemanly  and  lady-like  gyp- 


^6  THE  RUSSIAN   GYPSIES. 

eies  of  art,  like  the  Bohemians  of  Murger  and  Go-rge 
Sand,  but  differing  from  them  in  being  real  u  Bohe- 
mians" by  race.  I  confess  that  it  had  never  occurred 
to  me  that  there  was  anywhere  in  Europe,  at  the  pres- 
ent day,  least  of  all  in  the  heart  of  great  and  wealthy 
cities,  a  class  or  caste  devoted  entirely  to  art,  well-to- 
do  or  even  rich,  refined  in  manners,  living  in  comfort- 
able homes,  the  women  dressing  elegantly  ;  and  yet 
with  all  this  obliged  to  live  by  law,  as  did  the  Jews 
once,  in  Ghettos  or  in  a  certain  street,  and  regarded 
as  outcasts  and  cagdts.  I  had  heard  there  were  gyp- 
sies in  Russian  cities,  and  expected  to  find  them  like 
the  k£rengri  of  England  or  Germany,  —  house-dwellers 
somewhat  reformed  from  vagabondage,  but  still  reck- 
less semi-outlaws,  full  of  tricks  and  lies  ;  in  a  word, 
gypsies,  as  the  world  understands  the  term.  And  I 
certainly  anticipated  in  Russia  something  queer,  —  the 
gentleman  who  speaks  Romany  seldom  fails  lo  achieve 
at  least  that,  whenever  he  gets  into  an  unbroken 
haunt,  an  unlimited  forest,  where  the  Romany  rye 
is  unknown,  —  but  nothing  like  what  I  really  found. 
A  recent  writer  on  Russia1  speaks  with  great  con- 
tempt of  these  musical  Romanys,  their  girls  at- 
tired in  dresses  by  Worth,  as  compared  with  the  free 
ivild  outlaws  of  the  steppes,  who,  with  dark,  ineil'aldo 
glances,  meaning  nothing  more  than  a  wild-cat's, 
steal  poultry,  and  who,  wrapped  in  dirty  sheep-skins, 
proudly  call  themselves  Mi  dvorane  P<>1  •'/>//,  Lords 
of  tlm  Waste.  The,  gypsies  of  Moscow,  who  ap- 
peared to  me  the  most  interesting  1  have  ever  met, 
.is«  most  remote .from  tin-  Surrey  ideal,  seemed 
to  Mr.  Johnstone  to  be  a  kind  of  second-rate  Jlom- 

1  A  Trip  up  thr  Volga  to  the  Fair  of  Nijni-Novgorod.     Bj  H.  A 
Munro  Bntler  Johnstone.     1875. 


THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES.  2* 

Rnys  or  gypsies,  gypsified  for  exhibition,  like  Mr. 
Barnum's  negro  minstrel,  who,  though  black  as  a 
coal  by  nature,  was  requested  to  put  on  burnt  cork 
and  a  wig,  that  the  audience  might  realize  that  they 
were  getting  a  thoroughly  good  imitation.  Mr.  John- 
stone's  own  words  are  that  a  gypsy  maiden  in  a  long 
queue,  "  which  perhaps  came  from  Worth,"  is  "  hor- 
rible," "  corruptio  optimi  pessima  est ;  "  and  he  fur- 
ther ..com  pares  such  a  damsel  to  a  negro  with  a  cocked 
hat  and  spurs.  As  the  only  negro  thus  arrayed  who 
presents  himself  to  my  memory  was  one  who  lay 
dead  on  the  battle-field  in  Tennessee,  after  one  of  the 
bravest  resistances  in  history,  and  in  which  he  and 
his  men,  not  having  moved,  were  extended  in  "stark, 
serried  lines "  ("  ten  cart-loads  of  dead  niggers," 
said  a  man  to  me  who  helped  to  bury  them),  I 
may  be  excused  for  not  seeing  the  wit  of  the  com- 
parison. As  for  the  gypsies  of  Moscow,  I  can  only 
say  that,  after  meeting  them  in  public,  and  pene- 
trating to  their  homes,  where  I  was  received  as  one 
of  themselves,  even  as  a  Romany,  I  found  that  this 
opinion  of  them  was  erroneous,  and  that  they  were 
altogether  original  in  spite  of  being  clean,  deeply 
interesting  although  honest,  and  a  quite  attractive 
class  in  most  respects,  notwithstanding  their  ability 
to  read  and  write.  Against  Mr.  Johnstone's  impres- 
sions, I  may  set  the  straightforward  and  simple  result 
of  the  experiences  of  Mr.  W.  R.  Ralston.  "  The 
gypsies  of  Moscow,"  he  says,  "  are  justly  celebrated 
for  their  picturesqueness  and  for  their  wonderful  ca- 
pacity for  music.  All  who  have  heard  their  women 
sing  are  enthusiastic  about  the  weird  witchery  of  the 
performance." 
When  I  arrived  in  St.  Petersburg,  one  of  my  first 


28  THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES. 

inquiries  was  for  gypsies.  To  my  astonishment,  they 
were  hard  to  find.  They  are  not  allowed  to  live  in 
the  city  ;  and  I  was  told  that  the  correct  and  proper 
way  to  see  them  would  be  to  go  at  night  to  certain 
cafte,  half  an  hour's  sleigh-ride  from  the  town,  and 
listen  to  their  concerts.  What  I  wanted,  however, 
was  not  a  concert,  but  a  conversation ;  not  gypsies 
on  exhibition,  but  gypsies  at  home,  —  and  everybody 
seemed  to  be  of  the  opinion  that  those  of  "  Samar- 
cand  "  and  "  Dorot "  were  entirely  got  up  for  effect. 
In  fact,  I  heard  the  opinion  hazarded  that,  even  if 
they  spoke  Romany,  I  might  depend  upon  it  they  had 
acquired  it  simply  to  deceive.  One  gentleman,  who 
had,  however,  been  much  with  them  in  other  days, 
assured  me  that  they  were  of  pure  blood,  and  had 
an  inherited  language  of  their  own.  "  But,"  lie  added, 
"  I  am  sure  you  will  not  understand  it.  You  may 
be  able  to  talk  with  those  in  England,  but  not  with 
ours,  because  there  is  not  a  single  word  in  their  lan- 
guage which  resembles  anything  in  English,  German, 
French,  Latin,  Greek,  or  Italian.  I  can  only  recall," 
he  added,  "  one  phrase.  I  don't  know  what  it  means, 
and  I  think  it  will  puzzle  you.  It  is  me  kamdva 
tut." 

If  I  experienced  internal  laughter  at  hearing  this 
it  was  for  a  good  reason,  which  I  can  illustrate  by  an 
anecdote :  "  I  have  often  observed,  when  I  lived  in 
China,"  said  Mr.  Hoffman  Atkinson,  author  of  "  A 
Vocabulary  of  the  Yokohama  Dialect,"  "  that  most 
young  men,  particularly  the  gay  and  handsome  ones, 
g«-.i  crally  asked  me,  about  the  third  day  after  their 
arrival  in  the  country,  the  meaning  of  the  Pidgin- 
lish  phrase,  4  You  makee  too  muchee  lov-lov-pid- 
gin.'  Investigation  always  established  the  fact  that 


THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES.  29 

the  inquirer  had  heard  it  from  '  a.  pretty  China  girl.' 
Now  lov-pidgin  means  love,  and  me  kamdva  tut  is 
perfectly  good  gypsy  anywhere  for  « I  love  you  ; '  and 
a  very  soft  expression  it  is,  recalling  Jcama-deva,  the 
Indian  Cupid,  whose  bow  is  strung  with  bees,  and 
whose  name  has  two  strings  to  it,  since  it  means,  both 
in  gypsy  and  Sanskrit,  Love-God,  or  the  god  of  love. 
4  It 's  kdma-duvel,  you  know,  rya,  if  you  put  it  as  it 
ought  to  be,'  said  Old  Windsor  Froggie  to  me  once ; 
4  but  I  think  that  K&ma,-devil  would  by  rights  come 
nearer  to  it,  if  Cupid  is  what  you  mean.' " 

I  referred  the  gypsy  difficulty  to  a  Russian  gen- 
tleman of  high  position,  to  whose  kindness  I  had 
been  greatly  indebted  while  in  St.  Petersburg.  He 
laughed. 

"  Come  with  me  to-morrow  night  to  the  cafes,  and 
see  the  gypsies ;  I  know  them  well,  and  can  promise 
that  you  shall  talk  with  them  as  much  as  you  like. 
Once,  in  Moscow,  I  got  together  all  in  the  town  — 
perhaps  a  hundred  and  fifty  —  to  entertain  the  Amer- 
ican minister,  Curtin.  That  was  a  very  hard  thing 
to  do,  —  there  was  so  much  professional  jealousy 
among  them,  and  so  many  quarrels.  Would  you  have 
believed  it  ?  " 

I  thought  of  the  feuds  between  sundry  sturdy 
Romanys  in  England,  and  felt  that  I  could  suppose 
such  a  thing,  without  dangerously  stretching  my 
faith,  and  I  began  to  believe  in  Russian  gypsies. 

44  Well,  then,  I  shall  call  for  you  to-morrow  night 
with  a  troika;  I  will  come  early,  —  at  ten.  They 
.lever  begin  to  sing  before  company  arrive  at  eleven, 
so  that  you  will  have  half  an  hour  to  talk  to  them." 

It  is  on  record  that  the  day  on  which  the  general 
gave  me  this  kind  invitation  was  the  coldest  known 


30  THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES. 

in  St.  Petersburg  for  thirty  years,  the  thermometer 
having  stood,  or  rather  having  lain  down  and  grov- 
eled that  morning  at  40°  below  zero,  Fahr.  At  the 
appointed  hour  the  troika,  or  three-horse  sleigh,  was 
before  the  H6tel  d'Europe.  It  was,  indeed,  an  arc- 
tic night,  but,  well  wrapped  in  fur-lined  shubas,  with 
immense  capes  which  fall  to  the  elbow  or  rise  far 
above  the  head,  as  required,  and  wearing  fur  caps 
and  fur-lined  gloves,  we  felt  no  cold.  The  beard  of 
our  istvostshik,  or  driver,  was  a  great  mass  of  ice,  giv- 
ing him  the  appearance  of  an  exceedingly  hoary  youth, 
and  his  small  horses,  being  very  shaggy  and  thor- 
oughly frosted,  looked  in  the  darkness  like  immense 
polar  bears.  If  the  general  and  myself  could  only 
have  been  considered  as  gifts  of  the  slightest  value 
to  anybody,  I  should  have  regarded  our  turn-out, 
with  the  driver  in  his  sheep-skin  coat,  as  coming 
within  a  miracle  of  resemblance  to  that  of  Santa 
Glaus,  the  American  Father  Christinas. 

On,  at  a  tremendous  pace,  over  the  snow,  which 
PMVP.  out  under  our  runners  that  crunching,  iron 
sound  only  heard  when  the  thermometer  touches  zero. 
There  is  a  peculiar  fascination  about  the  troika,  and 
the  sweetest,  saddest  melody  and  most  plaintive  song 
of  Russia  belong  to  it. 

THE   TROIKA. 
Vot  y^dit  troika  udalaiya. 

Hear  ye  the  troika-bell  a-ringin;*. 

And  see  the  peasant  driver  there? 
Hear  ye  the  mournful  song  he  '»  sinking, 

Like  distant  tolling  through  the  air  ? 

'*  O  eyes,  blue  eyes,  to  me  so  lonely, 
O  eyes  —  alas !  —  ye  give  me  pain ; 


THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES.  31 

O  eyes,  that  once  looked  at  me  only, 
I  ne'er  shall  see  your  like  again. 

"Farewell,  my  darling,  now  in  heaven, 

And  still  the  heaven  of  my  soul ; 
Farewell,  thou  father  town,  O  Moscow, 
Where  I  have  left  my  life,  my  all !  " 

And  ever  at  the  rein  still  straining, 
One  backward  glance  the  driver  gave  ; 

Sees  but  once  more  a  green  low  hillock, 
Sees  but  once  more  his  loved  one's  grave. 

"Stoi!"  —  Halt!  We  stopped  at  a  stylish-look- 
ing building,  entered  a  hall,  left  our  shubas,  and  I 
heard  the  general  ask,  "  Are  the  gypsies  here  ? " 
An  affirmative  being  given,  we  entered  a  large  room, 
and  there,  sure  enough,  stood  six  or  eight  girls  and 
two  men,  all  very  well  dressed,  and  all  unmistakably 
Romany,  though  smaller  and  of  much  slighter  or  more 
delicate  frame  than  the  powerful  gypsy  "  travelers  " 
of  England.  In  an  instant  every  pair  of  great,  wild 
eyes  was  fixed  on  me.  The  general  was  in  every 
way  a  more  striking  figure,  but  I  was  manifestly  a 
fresh  stranger,  who  knew  nothing  of  the  country, 
and  certainly  nothing  of  gypsies  or  gypsydom.  Such 
a  verdant  visitor  is  always  most  interesting.  It  was 
not  by  any  means  my  first  reception  of  the  kind, 
and,  as  I  reviewed  at  a  glance  the  whole  party,  I 
said  within  myself :  — 

"  Wait  an  instant,  you  black  snakes,  and  I  will 
give  you  something  to  make  you  stare." 

This  promise  I  kept,  when  a  young  man,  who 
looked  like  a  handsome  light  Hindoo,  stepped  up  and 
addressed  me  in  Russian.  I  looked  long  and  steadily 
at  him  before  I  spoke,  and  then  said  :  — 

"  LatcJio  divvus  prala  !  "  (Good  day,  brother.) 

"  What  is  that?"  he  exclaimed,  startled. 


32  THE  RUSSIAN   GYPSIES. 

"  Tujines  latcho  adosta"  (You  know  very  well.) 
And  then,  with  the  expression  in  his  face  of  a  man 
who  has  been  familiarly  addressed  by  a  brazen  statue, 
or  asked  by  a  new-born  babe,  "  What  o'clock  is  it  ?" 
but  with  great  joy,  he  cried  :  — 

4  RomanicJial  /" 

In  an  instant  they  were  all  around  me,  marveling 
greatly,  and  earnestly  expressing  their  marvel,  at  what 
new  species  of  gypsy  I  might  be  ;  being  in  this  quite 
unlike  those  of  England,  who,  even  when  they  are 
astonished  "  out  of  their  senses  "  at  being  addressed 
in  Romany  by  a  gentleman,  make  the  most  red-Indian 
efforts  to  conceal  their  amazement.  But  I  speedily 
found  that  these  Russian  gypsies  were  as  unaffected 
and  child-like  as  they  were  gentle  in  manner,  and  that 
they  compared  with  our  own  prize-fighting,  sturdy- 
begging,  always-suspecting  Romany  roughs  and  ruff 
anas  as  a  delicate  greyhound  might  compare  with  a 
very  shrewd  old  bull-dog,  trained  by  an  unusually 
14  fly  "  tramp. 

That  the  girls  were  first  to  the  fore  in  questioning 
me  will  be  doubted  by  no  one.  But  we  had  great 
trouble  in  effecting  a  mutual  understanding.  Their 
Romany  was  full  of  Russian ;  their  pronunciation 
puzzled  me ;  they  "  bit  off  their  words,"  and  used 
many  in  a  strange  or  false  sense.  Yet,  notwithstand- 
ing this,  I  contrived  to  converse  pretty  readily  with 
the  men,  —  very  readily  with  the  captain,  a  man  as 
dark  as  Ben  Lee,  to  those  who  know  Benjamin,  or 
RS  mahogany,  to  those  who  know  him  not.  But  with 
the  women  it  was  very  difficult  to  converse.  There 
is  a  theory  current  that  women  have  a  specialty  of 
tact  and  readiness  in  understanding  a  foreigner,  or  in 
making  themselves  understood;  it  may  be  so  with 


THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES.  33 

cultivated  ladies,  but  it  is  my  experience  that,  among 
the  uneducated,  men  have  a  monopoly  of  such  quick 
intelligence.  In  order  fully  to  convince  them  that 
we  really  had  a  tongue  in  .common,  I  repeated  per- 
haps a  hundred  nouns,  giving,  for  instance,  the  names 
of  various  parts  of  the  body,  of  articles  of  apparel 
and  objects  in  the  room,  and  I  believe  that  we  did 
not  find  a  single  word  which,  when  pronounced  dis- 
tinctly by  itself,  was  not  intelligible  to  us  all.  I  had 
left  in  London  a  Russo-Romany  vocabulary,  once 
published  in  "  The  Asiatic  Magazine,"  and  I  had 
met  with  Bohtlinghk's  article  on  the  dialect,  as  well 
as  specimens  of  it  in  the  works  of  Pott  and  Miklo- 
sich,  but  had  unfortunately  learned  nothing  of  it  from 
them.  I  soon  found,  however,  that  I  knew  a  great 
many  more  gypsy  words  than  did  my  new  friends, 
and  that  our  English  Romany  far  excels  the  Russian 
in  copia  verborum. 

"  But  I  must  sit  down."  I  observed  on  this  and 
other  occasions  that  Russian  gypsies  are  very  naif. 
And  as  it  is  in  human  nature  to  prefer  sitting  by  a 
pretty  girl,  these  Slavonian  Romanys  so  arrange  it 
according  to  the  principles  of  natural  selection  — 
or  natural  politeness  —  that,  when  a  stranger  is  in 
their  gates,  the  two  prettiest  girls  in  their  possession 
sit  at  his  right  and  left,  the  two  less  attractive  next 
again,  et  seriatim.  So  at  once  a  damsel  of  comely 
mien,  arrayed  in  black  silk  attire,  of  faultless  elegance, 
cried  to  me,  pointing  to  a  chair  by  her  side,  "  Bersh 
tu  alay,  rya!"  (Sit  down,  sir),  —  a  phrase  which 
would  be  perfectly  intelligible  to  any  Romany  in 
England.  I  admit  that  there  was  another  damsel, 
<vho  is  generally  regarded  by  most  people  as  the  true 
gypsy  belle  of  the  party,  who  did  not  sit  by  me. 


84  THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES. 

But,  as  the  one  who  had  "voted  herself  into  the 
chair,'*  by  my  side,  was  more  to  my  liking,  being  the 
most  intelligent  and  most  gypsy,  I  had  good  cause  to 
rejoice. 

I  was  astonished  at  the  sensible  curiosity  as  to 
gypsy  life  in  other  lands  which  was  displayed,  and  at 
the  questions  asked.  I  really  doubt  if  I  ever  met 
with  an  English  gypsy  who  cared  a  farthing  to  know 
anything  about  his  race  as  it  exists  in  foreign  coun- 
tries, or  whence  it  came.  Once,  and  once  only,  I 
thought  I  had  interested  White  George,  at  East 
Moulsey,  in  an  account  of  Egypt,  and  the  small  num- 
ber of  Romanys  there ;  but  his  only  question  was  to 
the  effect  that,  if  there  were  so  few  gypsies  in  Egypt, 
would  n't  it  be  a  good  place  for  him  to  go  to  sell 
baskets  ?  These  of  Russia,  however,  asked  all  kinds 
of  questions  about  the  manners  and  customs  of  their 
congeners,  and  were  pleased  when  they  recognized 
familiar  traits.  And  every  gypsyism,  whether  of 
word  or  way,  was  greeted  with  delighted  laughter. 
In  one  thing  I  noted  a  radical  difference  between 
these  gypsies  and  those  of  the  rest  of  Europe  and  of 
America.  There  was  none  of  that  continually  as- 
sumed mystery  and  Romany  freemasonry,  of  superior 
occult  knowledge  and  "deep"  information,  which  is 
often  carried  to  the  depths  of  absurdity  and  to  the 
height  of  humbug.  I  say  this  advisedly,  since,  how- 
ever much  it  may  give  charm  to  a  novel  or  play,  it  is 
a  serious  impediment  to  a  philologist.  Let  me  give 
an  illustration. 

Owe.  during  the  evening,  those  Russian  gypsies 
\vere  anxious  to  know  if  there  were  any  books  in 
their  language.  Now  I  have  no  doubt  that  Dr.  Bath 
Smart,  or  Prof.  E.  H.  Palmer,  or  any  other  of  the 


THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES.  85 

initiated,  will  perfectly  understand  when  I  say  that 
by  mere  force  of  habit  I  shivered  and  evaded  the 
question.  When  a  gentleman  who  manifests  a  knowl- 
edge of  Romany  among  gypsies  in  England  is  sus- 
pected of  "  dixonary  "  studies,  it  amounts  to  lasciate 
ogni  speranza,  —  give  up  all  hope  of  learning  any 
more. 

"  I  'm  glad  to  see  you  here,  rya,  in  my  tent,"  said 
the  before-mentioned  Ben  Lee  to  me  one  night,  in 
camp  near  Weybridge,  "  because  I  've  heard,  and  I 
know,  you  did  n't  pick  up  your  Romany  out  of 
books." 

The  silly  dread,  the  hatred,  the  childish  antipathy, 
real  or  affected,  but  always  ridiculous,  which  is  felt 
in  England,  not  only  among  gypsies,  but  even  by 
many  gentlemen  scholars,  to  having  the  Romany 
language  published  is  indescribable.  Vambe*ry  was 
not  more  averse  to  show  a  lead  pencil  among  Tartars 
than  I  am  to  take  notes  of  words  among  strange 
English  gypsies.  I  might  have  spared  myself  any 
annoyance  from  such  a  source  among  the  Russian 
Romanys.  They  had  not  heard  of  Mr.  George  Bor- 
row ;  nor  were  there  ugly  stories  current  among  them 
to  the  effect  that  Dr.  Smart  and  Prof.  E.  H.  Palmer 
had  published  works,  the  direct  result  of  which  would 
be  to  facilitate  their  little  paths  to  the  jail,  the  gal- 
lows, and  the  grave. 

"  Would  we  hear  some  singing  ?  "  We  were  ready, 
and  for  the  first  time  in  my  life  I  listened  to  the  long- 
anticipated,  far-famed  magical  melody  of  Russian 
gypsies.  And  what  was  it  like  ?  May  I  preface  my 
reply  to  the  reader  w»th  the  remark  that  there  are, 
roughly  speaking,  two  kinds  of  music  in  the  world, 
—  the  wild  and  the  tame,  —  and  the  rarest  of  human 


36  THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES. 

beings  is  he  who  can  appreciate  both.  Only  one 
Buch  man  ever  wrote  a  book,  and  his  nomen  et  omen 
is  Engel,  like  that  of  the  little  English  slaves  who  were 
non  Angli,  sed  angeli.  I  have  in  my  time  been  deeply 
moved  by  the  choruses  of  Nubian  boatmen ;  I  have 
listened  with  great  pleasure  to  Chinese  and  Japan- 
ese music,  —  Ole  Bull  once  told  me  he  had  done  the 
same  ;  I  have  delighted  by  the  hour  in  Arab  songs ; 
and  I  have  felt  the  charm  of  our  red-Indian  music. 
If  this  seems  absurd  to  those  who  characterize  all 
such  sound  and  song  as  "caterwauling,'  let  me  re- 
mind the  reader  that  in  all  Europe  there  is  not  one 
man  fonder  of  music  than  an  average  Arab,  a  Chinese, 
or  a  -red  Indian ;  for  any  of  these  people,  as  I  have 
seen  and  know,  will  sit  twelve  or  fifteen  hours,  with- 
out the  least  weariness,  listening  to  what  cultivated 
Europeans  all  consider  as  a  mere  charivari.  When 
London  gladly  endures  fifteen-hour  concerts,  com- 
posed of  rnorceaux  by  Wagner,  Chopin,  and  Liszt,  I 
will  believe  that  art  can  charm  as  much  as  nature. 

The  medium  point  of  intelligence  in  this  puzzle 
may  be  found  in  the  extraordinary  fascination  which 
many  find  in  the  monotonous  turn-turn  of  the  banjo, 
and  which  reappears,  somewhat  refined,  or  at  least 
somewhat  Frenchified,  in  the  Bamboula  and  other 
Creole  airs.  Thence,  in  an  ascending  series,  but  con- 
nected with  it,  we  have  old  Spanish  melodies,  then 
the  Arabic,  and  here  we  finally  cross  the  threshold 
into  mystery,  midnight,  and  "  caterwauling."  I  do  not 
know  that  I  can  explain  the  fact  why  the  more  "  bar- 
barous "  music  is,  the  more  it  is  beloved  of  man  ;  but 
I  think  that  the  principle  of  the  refrain,  or  repeti- 
tion in  music,  which  us  yet  governs  nil  decorative  art, 
End  which  Mr.  Whistler  and  others  are  endeavoring 


THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES.  37 

desperately  to  destroy,  acts  in  music  as  a  sort  of  ani- 
mal magnetism  or  abstraction,  ending  in  an  extase. 
As  for  the  fascination  which  such  wild  melodies  exert, 
it  is  beyond  description.  The  most  enraptured  au- 
dience I  ever  saw  in  my  life  was  at  a  Coptic  wedding 
in  Cairo,  where  one  hundred  and  fifty  guests  listened, 
from  seven  P.  M.  till  three  A.  M.,  and  Heaven  knows 
how  much  later,  to  what  a  European  would  call  ab- 
solute jangling,  yelping,  and  howling. 

The  real  medium,  however,  between  what  I  have, 
for  want  of  better  words,  called  wild  and  tame  music 
exists  only  in  that  of  the  Russian  gypsies.  These 
artists,  with  wonderful  tact  and  untaught  skill,  have 
succeeded,  in  all  their  songs,  in  combining  the  myste- 
rious and  maddening  charm  of  the  true,  wild  Eastern 
music  with  that  of  regular  and  simple  melody,  intel- 
ligible to  every  Western  ear.  I  have  never  listened  to 
the  singing  or  playing  of  any  distinguished  artist  — 
and  certainly  never  of  any  far-famed  amateur  —  with- 
out realizing  that  neither  words  nor  melody  was  of 
the  least  importance,  but  that  the  man's  manner  of 
performance  or  display  was  everything.  Now,  in 
enjoying  gypsy  singing,  one  feels  at  once  as  if  the 
vocalists  had  entirely  forgotten  self,  and  were  carried 
away  by  the  bewildering  beauty  of  the  air  and  the 
charm  of  the  words.  There  is  no  self-consciousness, 
no  vanity,  —  all  is  real.  The  listener  feels  as  if  he 
were  a  performer ;  the  performer  is  an  enraptured 
listener.  There  is  no  soulless  "  art  for  the  sake  of 
vrt,"  but  art  for  direct  pleasure. 

"  We  intend  to  sing  only  Romany  for  you,  rya" 
said  the  young  lady  to  my  left,  "  and  you  will  hear 
our  real  gypsy  airs.  The  Cf-aji  [Russians]  often  ask 
for  songs  in  our  language,  and  don't  get  them.  But 


38  THE  RUSSIAN   GYPSIES. 

you  are  a  Romanichal,  and  when  you  go  home,  far 
over  the  baro  kdlo  pdni  [the  broad  black  water,  that 
is,  the  ocean],  you  shall  tell  the  Romany  how  we  can 
sing.  Listen  !  " 

And  I  listened  to  the  strangest,  wildest,  and  sweet- 
est singing  1  ever  had  heard,  —  the  singing  of  Lur- 
leis,  of  sirens,  of  witches.  First,  one  damsel,  with  an 
exquisitely  clear,  firm  voice,  began  to  sing  a  verse  of 
a  love-ballad,  and  as  it  approached  the  end  the  cho- 
rus stole  in,  softly  and  unperceived,  but  with  exquisite 
skill,  until,  in  a  few  seconds,  the  summer  breeze,  mur- 
muring melody  over  a  rippling  lake,  seemed  changed 
to  a  midnight  tempest,  roaring  over  a  stormy  sea,  in 
which  the  basso  of  the  kdlo  shureskro  (the  black  cap- 
tain) pealed  like  thunder.  Just  as  it  died  away  a 
second  girl  took  up  the  melody,  very  sweetly,  but 
with  a  little  more  excitement,  —  it  was  like  a  gleam 
of  moonlight  on  the  still  agitated  waters,  a  strange 
contralto  witch-gloam  ;  and  then  again  the  chorus  and 
the  storm  ;  and  then  another  solo  yet  sweeter,  sadder, 
and  stranger,  —  the  movement  continually  increasing, 
until  all  was  fast,  and  wild,  and  mad, —  a  locomotive 
quickstep,  and  then  a,  sudden  silence  —  sunlight  — 
the  storm  had  blown  away. 

Nothing  on  earth  is  so  like  magic  and  elfin-work 
lien  women  burst  forth  into  improvised  melody. 
The  bird  only  "sings  as  his  bill  grew,"  or  what  he 
learned  from  the  elders;  yet  when  you  hear  birds 
singing  in  woodland  groen,  throwing  out  to  God  or 
th«-  fairies  irrepressible  Hoods  of  what  seems  like  au- 
dible sunshine,  so  well  does  it  match  with  summer's 
light,  yon  think  it  is  wonderful.  It  is  mostly  when 
you  forget  the  long  training  of  the  prima  donna,  in 
her  ease  and  apparent  naturalness,  that  her  song  is 


THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES.  39 

sweetest.  But  there  is  a  charm,  which  was  well 
known  of  old,  though  we  know  it  not  to-day,  which 
was  practiced  by  the  bards  and  believed  in  by  their 
historians.  It  was  the  feeling  that  the  song  was  born 
of  the  moment ;  that  it  came  with  the  air,  gushing 
and  fresh  from  the  soul.  In  reading  the  strange 
stories  of  the  professional  bards  and  scalds  and  min- 
strels of  the  early  Middle  Age,  one  is  constantly  be- 
wildered at  the  feats  of  off-hand  composition  which 
were  exacted  of  the  poets  among  Celts  or  Norse- 
men. And  it  is  evident  enough  that  in  some  myste- 
rious way  these  singers  knew  how  to  put  strange 
pressure  on  the  Muse,  and  squeeze  strains  out  of  her 
in  a  manner  which  would  have  been  impossible  at 
present. 

Yet  it  lingers  here  and  there  on  earth  among  wild, 
strange  people,  —  this  art  of  making  melody  at  will. 
I  first  heard  it  among  Nubian  boatmen  on  the  Nile. 
It  was  as  manifest  that  it  was  composed  during  the 
making  as  that  the  singers  were  unconscious  of  their 
power.  One  sung  at  first  what  may  have  been  a  well- 
known  verse.  While  singing,  another  voice  stole  in, 
and  yet  another,  softly  as  shadows  steal  into  twilight ; 
and  ere  I  knew  it  all  were  in  a  great  chorus,  which 
fell  away  as  mysteriously,  to  become  duos,  trios,  — 
changing  in  melody  in  strange,  sweet,  fitful  wise,  as 
the  faces  seen  in  the  golden  cloud  in  the  visioned 
aureole  of  God  blend,  separate,  burn,  and  fade  away 
ever  into  fresher  glory  and  tints  incarnadined. 

Miss  C.  F.  Gordon  Gumming,  after  informing  us 
that  "  it  is  utterly  impossible  to  give  you  the  faintest 
shadow  of  an  idea  of  the  fascination  of  Tahitian 
him£nes"  proceeds,  as  men  in  general  and  women 
in  particular  invariably  do,  to  give  what  the  writer 


40  THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES. 

really  believes  is  a  very  good  description  indeed. 
'T  is  ever  thus,  and  thus  't  will  ever  be,  and  the  de- 
scription of  these  songs  is  so  good  that  any  person 
gifted  with  imagination  or  poetry  cannot  fail  to  smile 
at  the  preceding  disavowal  of  her  ability  to  give  an 
idea. 

These  JiimSnes  are  not  —  and  here  such  of  my  too 
expectant  young  lady-readers  as  are  careless  in  spell- 
ing will  be  sadly  disappointed  —  in  any  way  con- 
nected with  weddings.  They  are  simply  the  natural 
music  of  Tahiti,  or  strange  and  beautiful  part-songs. 
"  Nothing  you  have  ever  heard  in  any  other  country," 
says  our  writer,  u  bears  the  slightest  resemblance  tc 
these  "wild,  exquisite  glees,  faultless  in  time  and  har- 
mony, though  apparently  each  singer  introduces  any 
variations  which  may  occur  to  him  or  to  her.  Very 
often  there  is  no  leader,  and  apparently  all  sing  ac- 
cording to  their  own  sweet  will.  One  voice  com- 
mences ;  it  may  be  that  of  an  old  native,  with  genu- 
ine native  words  (the  meaning  of  which  AVC  had  bet- 
t»T  not  inquire),  or  it  may  be  with  a  Scriptural  story, 
versified  and  sung  to  an  air  originally  from  Europe, 
but  so  completely  Tahitiani/.ed  that  no  mortal  could 
recognize  it,  which  is  all  in  its  favor,  for  the  wild 
melodies  of  this  isle  are  beyond  measure  fascinating. 

"  After  one  clause  of  solo,  another  strikes  in  — 
here,  there,  everywhere  —  in  harmonious  chorus. 
It  seems  as  if  one  section  devoted  themselves  to  pour- 
ing forth  a  rippling  torrent  of  '  Ra,  ra,  ra  —  ra  —  ra!' 
while  others  burst  into  a  flood  of  4  La,  la  —  la —  la  — 
la  I '  Some  confine  their  care  to  sound  a  deep,  boom- 
ing bass  in  a  long-continued  drone,  somewhat  sug- 
\e  (to  my  appreciative  Highland  ear)  of  our 
own  bagpipes.  Here  and  there  high  falsetto  notes 


THE  RUSSIAN   GYPSIES.  41 

strike  in,  varied  from  verse  to  verse,  and  then  the 
choruses  of  La  and  Ra  come  bubbling  in  liquid  mel- 
ody, while  the  voices  of  the  principal  singers  now 
join  in  unison,  now  diverge  as  widely  as  it  is  possible 
for  them  to  do,  but  all  combine  to  produce  the  quaint- 
est, most  melodious,  rippling  glee  that  ever  was 
heard." 

This  is  the  himene ;  such  the  singing  which  I 
heard  in  Egypt  in  a  more  regular  form  ;  but  it  was 
exactly  as  the  writer  so  admirably  sets  it  forth  (and 
your  description,  my  lady  traveler,  is,  despite  your 
disavowal,  quite  perfect  and  a  himSne  of  itself)  that  I 
heard  the  gypsy  girls  of  St.  Petersburg  and  of  Mos- 
cow sing.  For,  after  a  time,  becoming  jolly  as  flies, 
first  one  voice  began  with  "La,  la,  la  —  la  —  la!  "  to 
an  unnamed,  unnamable,  charming  melody,  into  which 
went  and  came  other  voices,  some  bringing  one  verse 
or  no  verse,  in  unison  or  alone,  the  least  expected  do- 
ing what  was  most  awaited,  which  was  to  surprise  us 
and  call  forth  gay  peals  of  happy  laughter,  while  the 
"  La,  la,  la  —  la  —  la !  "  was  kept  up  continuously, 
like  an  accompaniment.  And  still  the  voices,  basso, 
soprano,  tenor,  baritone,  contralto,  rose  and  fell,  the 
moment's  inspiration  telling  how,  till  at  last  all 
blended  in  a  locomotive-paced  La,  and  in  a  final  roar 
of  laughter  it  ended. 

I  could  not  realize  at  the  time  how  much  this  ex- 
quisite part-singing  was  extemporized.  The  sound 
of  it  rung  in  my  head  —  I  assure  you.  reader,  it  rings 
there  yet  when  I  think  of  it  —  like  a  magic  bell.  An- 
other day,  however,  when  I  begged  for  a  repetition 
of  it,  the  girls  could  recall  nothing  of  it.  They  could 
start  it  again  on  any  air  to  the  unending  strain  of 
"La— la  — la;"  but  the  "La  — la  — la"  of  the 


42  THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES. 

previous  evening  was  avec  les  neigcs  tfantan,  with 
the  smoke  of  yesterday's  fire,  with  the  perfume  and 
bird-songs.  "  La,  la,  la  —  la  —  la  !  " 

In  Arab  singing,  such  effects  are  applied  simply  to 
set  forth  erotomania  ;  in  negro  minstrelsy,  they  are 
degraded  to  the  lowest  humor  ;  in  higher  European 
music,  when  employed,  they  simply  illustrate  the 
skill  of  composer  and  musician.  The  spirit  of  gypsy 
singing  recalled  by  its  method  and  sweetness  that  of 
the  Nubian  boatmen,  but  in  its  general  effect  I  could 
think  only  of  those  strange  fits  of  excitement  which 
thrill  the  red  Indian  and  make  him  burst  into  song. 
The  Abbe  Domenech  l  has  observed  that  the  Ameri- 
can savage  pays  attention  to  every  sound  that  strikes 
upon  his  car  when  the  leaves,  softly  shaken  by  the 
cvenino-  lnvc/e,  seem  to  sigh  through  the  air,  or  when 
the  tempest,  bursting  forth  with  fury,  shakes  the  gi- 
gantic trees  that  crack  like  reeds.  "  The  chirping  of 
the  birds,  the  cry  of  the  wild  beasts,  in  a  word,  all 
those  sweet,  grave,  or  imposing  voices  that  animate 
the  wilderness,  are  so  many  musical  lessons,  which  he 
easily  remembers."  In  illustration  of  this,  the  mis- 
sionary describes  the  singing  of  a  Chippewa  chief, 
and  its  wild  inspiration,  in  a  manner  which  vividly 
illustrates  all  music  of  the  class  of  which  I  write. 

"  It  was,"  he  says,  "  during  one  of  those  long 
winter  nights,  so  monotonous  and  so  wearisome  in 
the  woods.  We  were  in  a  wigwam,  which  afforded 
us  but  miserable  shelter  from  the  inclemency  of  the 
season.  The  storm  raged  without ;  the  tempest  roared 
in  the  open  country  ;  the  wind  blew  with  violence, 
and  whistled  through  the  fissures  of  the  cabin  ;  the 
rain  fell  in  torrents,  and  prevented  us  from  continu- 
1  Seven  Years  in  the  Deserts  of  America. 


THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES.  43 

ing  our  route.  Our  host  was  an  Indian,  with  spark- 
ling and  intelligent  eyes,  clad  with  a  certain  elegance, 
and  wrapped  majestically  in  a  large  fur  cloak.  Seated 
close  to  the  fire,  which  cast  a  reddish  gleam  through 
the  interior  of  his  wigwam,  he  felt  himself  all  at  once 
seized  with  an  irresistible  desire  to  imitate  the  con- 
vulsions of  nature,  and  to  sing  his  impressions.  So, 
taking  hold  of  a  drum  which  hung  near  his  bed,  he 
beat  a  slight  rolling,  resembling*  the  distant  sounds 
of  an  approaching  storm  ;  then,  raising  his  voice  to  a 
shrill  treble,  which  he  knew  how  to  soften  when  he 
pleased,  he  imitated  the  whistling  of  the  air,  the 
creaking  of  the  branches  dashing  against  one  another, 
and  the  particular  noise  produced  by  dead  leaves 
when  accumulated  in  compact  masses  on  the  ground. 
By  degrees  the  rollings  of  the  drum  became  more 
frequent  and  louder,  the  chants  more  sonorous  and 
shrill,  and  at  last  our  Indian  shrieked,  howled,  and 
roared  in  a  most  frightful  manner  ;  he  struggled  and 
struck  his  instrument  with  extraordinary  rapidity.  It 
was  a  real  tempest,  to  which  nothing  was  wanting, 
not  even  the  distant  howling  of  the  dogs,  nor  the  bel- 
lowing of  the  affrighted  buffaloes." 

I  have  observed  the  same  musical  inspiration  of  a 
storm  upon  Arabs,  who,  during  their  singing,  also  ac- 
companied themselves  on  a  drum.  I  once  spent  two 
weeks  in  a  Mediterranean  steamboat,  on  board  of 
which  were  more  than  two  hundred  pilgrims,  for  the 
greater  part  wild  Bedouins,  going  to  Mecca.  They 
had  a  minstrel  who  sang  and  played  on  the  darabuka, 
or  earthenware  drum,  and  he  was  aided  by  another 
with  a  simple  nai,  or  reed-whistle  ;  the  same  orchestra, 
in  fact,  which  is  in  universal  use  among  all  red  In- 
dians. To  these  performers  the  pilgrims  listened 


44  THE  RUSSIAN   GYPSIES. 

with  indescribable  pleasure;  and  I  soon  found  that 
they  regarded  me  favorably  because  I  did  the  same, 
being,  of  course,  the  only  Frank  on  board  who  paid 
any  attention  to  the  singing  —  or  any  money  for  it. 
But  it  was  at  night  and  during  storms  that  the  spirit 
of  music  always  seemed  to  be  strongest  on  the  Arabs, 
and  then,  amid  roaring  of  wild  waters  and  thunder- 
ing, and  in  dense  darkness,  the  rolling  of  the  drum 
and  the  strange,  bewildering  ballads  never  ceased. 
It  was  the  very  counterpart,  in  all  respects,  of  the 
Chippewa  storm  song. 

After  the  first  gypsy  lyric  there  came  another,  to 
which  the  captain  especially  directed  my  attention 
as  being  what  Sam  Petulengro  calls  "  reg'lar  Rom- 
any." It  was  I  rakli  adro  o  lolo  gad  (The  girl  in 
the  red  chemise),  as  well  as  I  can  recall  his  words, 
—  a  very  sweet  song,  with  a  simple  but  spirited  cho- 
rus ;  and  as  the  sympathetic  electricity  of  excitement 
d  the  performers  we  were  all  in  a  minute  "  go- 
ing down  the  rapids  in  a  spring  freshet." 

"  Bagan  tu  rya,  lagan  !  "  (Sing,  sir,  —  sing)  cried 
my  handsome  neighbor,  with  her  black  gypsy  eyes 
sparkling  fire.  "  Jines  hi  lagan  eto  —  eto  latcho 
Romanes"  (You  can  sing  that,  —  it's  real  Rom- 
any.) It  was  evident  that  she  and  all  were  sing- 
ing with  thorough  enjoyment,  and  with  a  full  and 
realizing  consciousness  of  gypsyism,  being  greatly 
stimulated  by  my  presence  and  sympathy.  I  felt 
that  the  gypsies  were  taking  unusual  pains  to  please 
tli<>  Romany  rye  from  the  dur9  tcm,  or  far  country, 
;ni (I  they  I i;id  attained  the  acme  of  success  by  being 
thoroughly  delighted  with  themselves,  which  is  all 
that  can  be  hoped  for  in  art,  where  the  aim  is  pleas- 
ure and  not  criticism. 


THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES.  45 

There  was  a  pause  in  the  performance,  but  none 
in  the  chattering  of  the  young  ladies,  and  during  this 
a  curious  little  incident  occurred.  Wishing  to  know 
if  my  pretty  friend  could  understand  an  English 
gypsy  lyric,  I  sang  in  an  undertone  a  ballad,  taken 
from  George  Borrow's  "Lavengro,"  and  which  be- 
gins with  these  words  :  — 

"  Pende  Romani  chai  ke  laki  dye  ; 
'  Miri  diri  dye,  mi  shorn  kameli.' " 

I  never  knew  whether  this  was  really  an  old  gypsy 
poem  or  one  written  by  Mr.  Borrow.  Once,  when  I 
repeated  it  to  old  Henry  James,  as  he  sat  making 
baskets,  I  was  silenced  by  being  told,  "That  ain't 
no  real  gypsy  gilli.  That 's  one  of  the  kind  made 
up  by  gentlemen  and  ladies."  However,  as  soon  as 
I  repeated  it,  the  Russian  gypsy  girl  cried  eagerly, 
"  I  know  that  song  !  "  and  actually  sang  me  a  ballad 
which  was  essentially  the  same,  in  which  a  damsel 
describes  her  fall,  owing  to  a  Gajo  (Gorgio,  a  Gentile, 
—  not  gypsy)  lover,  and  her  final  expulsion  from  the 
tent.  It  was  adapted  to  a  very  pretty  melody,  and 
as  soon  as  she  had  sung  it,  sotto  voce,  my  pretty  friend 
exclaimed  to  another  girl,  "  Only  think,  the  rye  from 
America  knows  that  song  !  "  Now,  as  many  centu- 
ries must  have  passed  since  the  English  and  Russian 
gypsies  parted  from  the  parent  stock,  the  preserva- 
tion of  this  song  is  very  remarkable,  and  its  antiq- 
uity must  be  very  great.  I  did  not  take  it  down,  but 
any  resident  in  St.  Petersburg  can,  if  so  inclined, 
do  so  among  the  gypsies  at  Dorat,  and  verify  my 
statement. 

Then  there  was  a  pretty  dance,  of  a  modified  Ori- 
ental character,  by  one  of  the  damsels.  For  this,  as 
for  the  singing,  the  only  musical  instrument  used  was 


46  THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES. 

a  guitar,  which  had  seven  strings,  tuned  in  Spanish 
fashion,  and  was  rather  weak  in  tone.  I  wished  it 
had  been  a  powerful  Panormo,  which  would  have  ex- 
actly suited  the  timbre  of  these  voices.  The  gypsies 
were  honestly  interested  in  all  I  could  tell  them 
about  their  kind  in  other  lands ;  while  the  girls  were 
professionally  desirous  to  hear  more  Anglo-Romany 
songs,  and  were  particularly  pleased  with  one  begin- 
ning with  the  words  :  — 

" '  Me  shorn  akonyo/  gildas  yoi, 

Men  liuti  ruzhior, 
Te  sar  i  chiriclia  adoi 
Pen  mengy  gilior.'" 

Though  we  ugot  on  "  after  a  manner  in  our  Rom- 
any talk,  I  was  often  obliged  to  have  recourse  to  my 
friend  the  general  to  translate  long  sentences  into 
Russian,  especially  \vhen  some  sand-bar  of  a  verb 
or  some  log  of  a  noun  impeded  the  current  of  our 
conversation.  Finally,  a  formal  request  was  made 
by  the  captain  that  I  would,  as  one  deep  beyond  all 
their  experience  in  Romany  matters,  kindly  tell  them 
what  kind  of  people  they  really  were,  and  whence 
they  came.  With  this  demand  I  cheerfully  complied, 
every  word  being  listened  to  with  breathless  interest. 
So  I  told  them  what  I  knew  or  had  conjectured  rel- 
ative to  their  Indian  origin  :  how  their  fathers  had 
wandered  forth  through  Persia  ;  how  their  travels 
could  be  traced  by  the  Persian,  Greek,  or  Roumanian 
words  in  the  language  ;  how  in  1417  a  band  of  tin-in 
appeared  in  Europe,  led  by  a  few  men  of  great  dip- 
lomatic skill,  who,  by  crafty  dealing,  obtained  from 
the  Pope,  tin-  Emperor  of  Germany,  and  all  the,  kings 
of  Europe,  except  that  of  England,  permission  to 
wander  for  fifty  years  as  pilgrims,  declaring  that  they 


THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES.  47 

had  been  Christians,  but,  having  become  renegades, 
the  King  of  Hungary  had  imposed  a  penance  on  them 
of  half  a  century's  exile.  Then  I  informed  them  that 
precisely  the  same  story  had  been  told  by  them  to  the. 
rulers  in  Syria  and  Egypt,  only  that  in  the  Moham- 
medan countries  they  pretended  to  be  good  followers 
of  Islam.  I  said  there  was  reason  to  believe  that 
some  of  their  people  had  been  in  Poland  and  the 
other  Slavonic  countries  ever  since  the  eleventh  cent- 
ury, but  that  those  of  England  must  have  gone  di- 
rectly from  Eastern  Europe  to  Great  Britain ;  for, 
although  they  had  many  Slavic  words,  such  as  krallis 
(king)  and  shuba,  there  were  no  French  terms,  and 
very  few  traces  of  German  or  Italian,  in  the  English 
dialect.  I  observed  that  the  men  all  understood  the 
geographical  allusions  which  I  made,  knowing  ap- 
parently where  India,  Persia,  and  Egypt  were  situ- 
ated —  a  remarkable  contrast  to  our  own  English 
"  travelers,"  one  of  whom  once  informed  me  that  he 
would  like  to  go  "  on  the  road"  in  America,  "be- 
cause you  know,  sir,  as  America  lays  along  into 
France,  we  could  get  our  French  baskets  cheaper 
there." 

I  found,  on  inquiry,  that  the  Russian  gypsies  pro- 
fess Christianity  ;  but,  as  the  religion  of  the  Greek 
church,  as  I  saw  it,  appears  to  be  practically  some- 
thing very  little  better  than  fetich-worship,  I  cannot 
exalt  them  as  models  of  evangelical  piety.  They 
are,  however,  according  to  a  popular  proverb,  not  far 
from  godliness  in  being  very  clean  in  their  persons ; 
and  not  only  did  they  appear  so  to  me,  but  I  was  as- 
sured by  several  Russians  that,  as  regarded  these 
singing  gypsies,  it  was  invariably  the  case.  As  for 
morality  in  gypsy  girls,  their  principles  are  very  pe- 


48  THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES. 

culiar.  Not  a  whisper  of  scandal  attaches  to  these 
Russian  Romany  women  as  regards  transient  amours. 
But  if  a  wealthy  Russian  gentleman  falls  in  love 
with  one,  and  will  have  and  hold  her  permanently, 
or  for  a  durable  connection,  he  may  take  her  to  his 
home  if  she  likes  him,  but  must  pay  monthly  a  sum 
into  the  gypsy  treasury ;  for  these  people  apparently 
form  an  artel,  or  society-union,  like  all  other  classes 
of  Russians.  It  may  be  suggested,  as  an  explanation 
of  this  apparent  incongruity,  that  gypsies  all  the 
world  over  regard  steady  cohabitation,  or  agreement, 
as  marriage,  binding  themselves,  as  it  were,  by  Grand- 
harbavivaha,  as  the  saint  married  Vasantasena,  which 
is  an  old  Sanskrit  way  of  wedding.  And  let  me  re- 
mark that  if  one  tenth  of  what  I  heard  in  Russia 
about  "  morals  "  in  the  highest  or  lowest  or  any  other 
class  be  true,  the  gypsies  of  that  country  are  shining 
lights  and  brilliant  exemplars  of  morality  to  all  by 
whom  they  are  surrounded.  Let  me  also  add  that 
never  on  any  occasion  did  I  hear  or  see  among  them 
anything  in  the  slightest  degree  improper  or  unre- 
fined. I  knew  very  well  that  I  could,  if  I  chose,  talk 
to  such  na'ive  people  about  subjects  which  would 
shock  an  English  lady,  and,  as  the  reader  may  re- 
member, I  did  quote  Mr.  Borrow's  song,  which  he  has 
not  translated.  But  a  European  girl  who  would  have 
endured  allusions  to  tabooed  subjects  would  have  at 
all  times  shown  vulgarity  or  coarseness,  while  these 
Russian  Romany  girls  were  invariably  lady-like.  It 
is  true  that  the  St.  Petersburg  party  had  a  dissipated 
air;  three  or  four  of  them  looked  like  second-class 
French  or  Italian  theatrical  artistes,  and  I  should  not 
be  astonished  to  learn  that  very  late  hours  and  cham- 
pagne were  familiar  to  them  as  cigarettes,  or  that 


THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES.  49 

their  flirtations  among  their  own  people  were  neither 
faint,  nor  few,  nor  far  between.  But  their  conduct 
in  my  presence  was  irreproachable.  Those  of  Mos- 
cow, in  fact,  had  not  even  the  apparent  defects  of 
their  St.  Petersburg  sisters  and  brothers,  and  when 
among  them  it  always  seemed  to  me  as  if  I  were  sim- 
ply with  nice  gentle  Creoles  or  Cubans,  the  gypsy 
manner  being  tamed  down  to  the  Spanish  level,  their 
great  black  eyes  and  their  guitars  increasing  the  re- 
semblance. 

The  indescribably  wild  and  thrilling  character  of 
gypsy  music  is  thoroughly  appreciated  by  the  Rus- 
sians, who  pay  very  high  prices  for  Romany  per- 
formances. From  five  to  eight  or  ten  pounds  ster- 
ling is  usually  given  to  a  dozen  gypsies  for  singing 
an  hour  or  two  to  a  special  party,  and  this  is  some- 
times repeated  twice  or  thrice  of  an  evening.  "A 
Russian  gentleman,  when  he  is  in  funds,"  said  the 
clerk  of  the  Slavansky  Bazaar  in  Moscow  to  me, 
"  will  make  nothing  of  giving  the  Zigani  a  hundred- 
ruble  note,"  the  ruble  rating  at  half  a  crown.  The 
result  is  that  good  singers  among  these  lucky  Roma- 
nys  are  well  to  do,  and  lead  soft  lives,  for  Russia. 

MOSCOW. 

I  had  no  friends  in  Moscow  to  direct  me  where  to 
find  gypsies  en  famille,  and  the  inquiries  which  I 
made  of  chance  acquaintances  simply  convinced  me 
that  the  world  at  large  was  as  ignorant  of  their  ways 
*s  it  was  prejudiced  against  them.  At  last  the  good- 
natured  old  porter  of  our  hotel  told  me,  in  his  rough 
Baltic  German,  how  to  meet  these  mysterious  min- 
strels to  advantage.  "  You  must  take  a  sleigh,"  he 
eaid,  "  and  go  out  to  Petrovka.  That  is  a  place  in 
4 


50  THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES. 

the  country,  where  there  are  grand  cafes  at  consider- 
able distances  one  from  the  other.  Pay  the  driver 
three  rubles  for  four  hours.  Enter  a  cafe,  call  for 
something  to  drink,  listen  to  the  gypsies  singing,  and 
when  they  pass  round  a  plate  put  some  money  in  it. 
That 's  all/'  This  was  explicit,  and  at  ten  o'clock 
in  the  evening  I  hired  a  sleigh  and  went. 

If  the  cold  which  I  had  experienced  in  the  gen- 
eral's troika  in  St.  Petersburg  might  be  compared 
to  a  moderate  rheumatism,  that  which  I  encountered 
in  the  sleigh  outside  the  walls  of  Moscow,  on  Christ- 
mas Eve,  187G,  was  like  a  fierce  gout.  The  ride  was 
in  all  conscience  Russian  enough  to  have  its  ending 
among  gypsies,  Tartars,  or  Cossacks.  To  go  at  a 
headlong  pace  over  the  creaking  snow  behind  an  ist- 
vostshik,  named  Vassili,  the  round,  cold  moon  over- 
head, church-spires  tipped  with  great  inverted  golden 
turnips  in  the  distance,  and  this  on  a  night  when  the 
frost  seemed  almost  to  scream  in  its  intensity,  is  as 
much  of  a  sensation  in  the  suburbs  of  Moscow  as  it 
could  be  out  on  the.  steppes.  A  few  wolves,  more 
or  less,  make  no  dilTerenoe,  —  and  even  they  come 
sometimes  within  three  hours'  walk  of  the  Kremlin. 
Et  ego  inti-r  IHJ><>X, —  I  too  have  been  among  wolves 
in  my  time  l.y  ni^ht,  in  Kansas,  and  thought  nothing 
of  such  rides  compared  to  the  one  I  had  when  I  went 
ijypsying  from  Moscow. 

In  half  an  hour  Vassili  brought  me  to  a  house, 
which  I  entered.  A  "proud  porter,"  a  vast  creature, 
in  uniform  suggestive  of  embassies  and  kings'  palaces, 
relieved  me.  of  my  vJiufxi.  and  I  found  my  way  into  a 
•e  and  ]ii«rh  hall,  brilliantly  lighted  as  if  for 
a  thousand  quests,  while  iiie  only  occupants  were  four 
couples,  "  spooning  "  sans  gene,  one  in  each  corner 


THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES.  51 

and  a  small  party  of  men  and  girls  drinking  in  the 
middle.  I  called  a  waiter ;  he  spoke  nothing  but 
Russian,  and  Russian  is  of  all  languages  the  most 
useless  to  him  who  only  talks  it  "  a  little."  A  little 
Arabic,  or  even  a  little  Chippewa,  I  have  found  of 
great  service,  but  a  fair  vocabulary  and  weeks .  of 
study  of  the  grammar  are  of  no  avail  in  a  country 
where  even  men  of  gentlemanly  appearance  turn 
away  with  childish  ennui  the  instant  they  detect  the 
foreigner,  resolving  apparently  that  they  cannot  and 
will  not  understand  him.  In  matters  like  this  the 
ordinary  Russian  is  more  impatient  and  less  intelli- 
gent than  any  Oriental  or  even  red  Indian.  The 
result  of  my  interview  with  the  waiter  was  that  we 
were  soon  involved  in  the  completest  misunderstand- 
ing on  the  subject  of  gypsies.  The  question  was 
settled  by  reference  to  a  fat  and  fair  damsel,  one  of 
the  "spoons"  already  referred  to,  who  spoke  Ger- 
man. She  explained  to  me  that  as  it  was  Christ- 
mas Eve  no  gypsies  would  be  there,  or  at  any  other 
cafe.  This  was  disappointing.  I  called  Vassili,  and 
he  drove  on  to  another  "garden,"  deeply  buried  in 
snow. 

When  I  entered  the  rooms  at  this  place,  I  per- 
ceived at  a  glance  that  matters  had  mended.  There 
was  the  hum  of  many  voices,  and  a  perfume  like  that 
of  tea  and  many  papiross,  or  cigarettes,  with  a  prompt 
sense  of  society  and  of  enjoyment.  I  was  dazzled  at 
first  by  the  glare  of  the  lights,  and  could  distinguish 
nothing,  unless  it  was  that  the  numerous  company  re- 
garded me  with  utter  amazement ;  for  it  was  an  "  off 
night,"  when  no  business  was  expected,  —  few  were 
there  save  "  professionals  "  and  their  friends,  —  and  I 
was  manifestly  an  unexpected  intruder  on  Bohemia. 


62  TEE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES. 

As  luck  would  have  it,  that  which  I  believed  was 
the  one  worst  night  in  the  year  to  find  the  gypsy 
minstrels  proved  to  be  the  exceptional  occasion  when 
they  were  all  assembled,  and  I  had  hit  upon  it.  Of 
course  this  struck  me  pleasantly  enough  as  I  looked 
around,  for  I  knew  that  at  a  touch  the  spell  would 
be  broken,  and  with  one  word  I  should  have  the 
warmest  welcome  from  all.  I  had  literally  not  a 
single  speaking  acquaintance  within  a  thousand  miles, 
and  yet  here  was  a  room  crowded  with  gay  and  fes- 
tive strangers,  whom  the  slightest  utterance  would 
convert  into  friends. 

I  was  not  disappointed.  Seeking  for  an  opportu- 
nity, I  saw  a  young  man  of  gentlemanly  appearance, 
well  dressed,  and  with  a  mild  and  amiable  air.  Speak- 
ing to  him  in  German,  I  asked  the  very  needless  ques- 
tion if  there  were  any  gypsies  present. 

"  You  wish  to  hear  them  sing  ?  "  he  inquired. 

"  I  do  not.  I  only  want  to  talk  with  one,  —  with 
any  one." 

He  appeared  to  be  astonished,  but,  pointing  to  a 
handsome,  slender  young  lady,  a  very  dark  brunette, 
elegantly  attired  in  black  silk,  said,  — 

"  There  is  one." 

I  stepped  across  to  the  girl,  who  rose  to  meet  me. 
I  said  nothing  for  a  few  seconds,  but  looked  at  her 
intently,  and  then  asked, — 

"  Rakessa  tu  Romanes ,  miri  pen  ?  "  (Do  you  talk 
Romany,  my  sister  ?) 

She  gave  one  deep,  long  glance  of  utter  astonish- 
ment, drew  one  long  breath,  and,  with  a  cry  of  de- 
light and  wonder,  said,  — 

"  Romanichal !  " 

That  word  awoke  the  entire  company,  and  with  if 


THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES.  63 

they  found  out  who  the  intruder  was.  "  Then  might 
you  hear  them  cry  aloud,  '  The  Moringer  is  here  ! ' ' 
for  I  began  to  feel  like  the  long-lost  lord  returned, 
BO  warm  was  my  welcome.  They  flocked  around  me ; 
they  cried  aloud  in  Romany,  and  one  good-natured, 
smiling  man,  who  looked  like  a  German  gypsy, 
mounting  a  chair,  waved  a  guitar  by  its  neck  high 
in  the  air  as  a  signal  of  discovery  of  a  great  prize  to 
those  at  a  distance,  repeating  rapidly,  — 

"  Avakai,  avakai,  Eomanichal  !  "  (Come  here  ; 
here 's  a  gypsy  !) 

And  they  came,  dark  and  light,  great  and  small, 
and  got  round  me,  and  shook  hands,  and  held  to  my 
arms,  and  asked  where  I  came  from,  and  how  I  did, 
and  if  it  was  n't  jolly,  and  what  would  I  take  to 
drink,  and  said  how  glad  they  were  to  see  me  ;  and 
when  conversation  flagged  for  an  instant,  somebody 
said  to  his  next  neighbor,  with  an  air  of  wisdom, 
"  American  Romany,"  and  everybody  repeated  it  with 
delight.  Then  it  occurred  to  the  guitarist  and  the 
young  lady  that  we  had  better  sit  down.  So  my  first 
acquaintance  and  discoverer,  whose  name  was  Liu- 
basha,  was  placed,  in  right  of  preemption,  at  my 
right  hand,  the  belle  des  belles,  Miss  Sarsha,  at  my 
left,  a  number  of  damsels  all  around  these,  and  then 
three  or  four  circles  of  gypsies,  of  different  ages  and 
L.ints,  standing  up,  surrounded  us  all.  In  the  outer 
ring  were  several  fast-looking  and  pretty  Russian  or 
German  blonde  girls,  whose  mission  it  is,  I  believe, 
to  dance  —  and  flirt  —  with  visitors,  and  a  few 
gentlemanly-looking  Russians,  vieux  garpons,  evi- 
dently of  the  kind  who  are  at  home  behind  the 
scenes,  and  who  knew  where  to  come  to  enjoy  them- 
selves. Altogether  there  must  have  been  about  fifty 


54  THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES. 

present,  and  I  soon  observed  that  every  word  I  ut> 
tered  was  promptly  repeated,  while  every  eye  was 
fix i-d  nil  inc. 

I  could  converse  in  Romany  with  the  guitarist, 
and  without  much  difficulty;  but  with  the  charming, 
heedless  young  ladies  I  had  as  much  trouble  to  talk 
as  with  their  sisters  in  St.  Petersburg.  The  young 
gentleman  already  referred  to,  to  whom  in  my  fancy 
I  promptly  gave  the  Offenbachian  name  of  Prince 
Paul,  translated  whenever  there  was  a  misunder- 
standing, and  in  a  few  minutes  we  were  all  intimate. 
Miss  Sarsha,  who  had  a  slight  cast  in  one  of  her  wild 
black  eyes,  which  added  something  to  the  gypsiness 
and  roguery  of  her  smiles,  and  who  wore  in  a  ring  a 
large  diamond,  which  seemed  as  if  it  might  be  the 
rig] it  eye  in  the  wrong  place,  was  what  is  called  an 
earnest  young  lady,  with  plenty  to  say  and  great 
j-in-rgy  wherewith  to  say  it.  What  with  her  eyes, 
her  diamond,  her  smiles,  and  her  tongue,  she  consti- 
tuted altogether  a  fine  specimen  of  irrepressible  fire- 
works, and  Prince  Paul  had  enough  to  do  in  facili- 
tating conversation.  There  was  no  end  to  his  po- 
liteness, but  it  was  an  impossible  task  for  him  now 
and  then  promptly  to  carry  over  a  long  sentence 
from  German  to  Russian,  and  he  would  give  it  up 
like  an  invincible  conundrum,  with  the  patient  smile 
and  head-wag  and  hand-wave  of  an  amiable  Dun- 
dreary. Yet  I  began  to  surmise  a  mystery  even  in 
him.  More  than  once  he  inadvertently  betrayed  a 
knowledge  of  Romany,  though  he  invariably  spoke 
of  his  friends  around  in  a  patronizing  manner  as 
"these  gypsies."  This  was  very  odd,  for  in  appear- 
ance ]n>  \V;is  a  CJorgio  of  the  Gorgios,  and  did  not 
seem,  despite  any  talent  for  languages  which  he  might 


THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES.  55 

possess,  likely  to  trouble  himself  to  acquire  Romany 
while  Russian  would  answer  every  purpose  of  conver- 
sation. All  of  this  was,  however,  explained  to  me 
afterward. 

Prince  Paul  again  asked  me  if  I  had  come  out  to 
hear  a  concert.  I  said,  "No;  that  I  had  simply 
come  out  to  see  my  brothers  and  sisters  and  talk 
with  them,  just  as  I  hoped  they  would  come  to  see 
me  if  I  were  in  my  own  country."  This  speech  pro- 
duced a  most  favorable  impression,  and  there  was,  in 
a  quiet  way,  a  little  private  conversation  among  the 
leaders,  after  which  Prince  Paul  said  to  me,  in  a 
very  pleasant  manner,  that  "  these  gypsies,"  being 
delighted  at  the  visit  from  the  gentleman  from  a 
distant  country,  would  like  to  offer  me  a  song  in 
token  of  welcome.  To  this  I  answered,  with  many 
thanks,  that  such  kindness  was  more  than  I  had  ex- 
pected, for  I  was  well  aware  of  the  great  value  of  such 
a  compliment  from  singers  whose  fame  had  reached 
me  even  in  America.  It  was  evident  that  my  grain  of 
a  reply  did  not  fall  upon  stony  ground,  for  I  never  was 
among  people  who  seemed  to  be  so  quickly  impressed 
by  any  act  of  politeness,  however  trifling.  A  bow, 
a  grasp  of  the  hand,  a  smile,  or  a  glance  would  grat- 
ify them,  and  this  gratification  their  lively  black  eyes 
expressed  in  the  most  unmistakable  manner. 

So  we  had  the  song,  wild  and  wonderful  like  all 
of  its  kind,  given  with  that  delightful  abandon  which 
attains  perfection  only  among  gypsies.  I  had  enjoyed 
the  singing  in  St.  Petersburg,  but  there  was  a  laisser 
alter,  a  completely  gay  spirit,  in  this  Christmas-Eve 
jrypsy  party  in  Moscow  which  was  much  more  "  whirl- 
ing away."  For  at  Dorot  the  gypsies  had  been  on 
exhibition ;  here  at  Petrovka  tuey  were  frolicking  en 


56  THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES. 


with  a  favored  guest,  —  a  Romany  rye  from 
a  far  land  to  astonish  and  delight,  —  and  he  took  good 
care  to  let  them  feel  that  they  were  achieving  a  splen- 
did success,  for  I  declared  many  times  that  it  was 
butsi  sliukdr,  or  very  beautiful.  Then  I  called  for 
tea  and  lemon,  and  after  that  the  gypsies  sang  for 
their  own  amusement,  Miss  Sarsha,  as  the  incarna- 
tion of  fun  and  jollity,  taking  the  lead,  and  mak- 
ing me  join  in.  Then  the  crowd  made  way,  and  in 
the  space  appeared  a  very  pretty  little  girl,  in  the 
graceful  old  gypsy  Oriental  dress.  This  child  danced 
charmingly  indeed,  in  a  style  strikingly  like  that  of 
the  Almeh  of  Egypt,  but  without  any  of  the  erotic  ex- 
pressions which  abound  in  Eastern  pantomime.  This 
little  Romany  girl  was  to  me  enchanting,  being  alto- 
gether unaffected  and  graceful.  It  was  evident  that 
her  dancing,  like  the  singing  of  her  elder  sisters,  was 
not  an  art  which  had  been  drilled  in  by  instruction. 
They  had  come  into  it  in  infancy,  and  perfected 
themselves  by  such  continual  practice  that  what  they 
did  was  as  natural  as  walking  or  talking.  When  the 
dancing  was  over,  I  begged  that  the  little  girl  would 
come  to  me,  and,  kissing  her  tiny  gypsy  hand,  I  said, 
"  Spassibo  tute  kamli,  eto  hi'  butsi  shukdr  "  (Thank 
you,  dear;  that  is  very  pretty),  with  which  the  rest 
were  evidently  pleased.  I  had  observed  among  the 
singers,  at  a  little  distance,  a  very  remarkable  and 
rather  handsome  old  woman,  —  a  good  study  for  an 
artist,  —  and  she,  as  I  also  noticed,  had  sung  with  a 
powerful  and  clear  voice.  "She  is  our  grandmother,'* 
wiid  one  of  tlie  inrls.  Now,  as  every  student  of  gyp- 
knows,  the  first  thing  to  do  in  England  or  Ger- 
many, on  entering  a  tent-gypsy  encampment,  is  to 
be  polite  to  "  the  old  woman."  Unless  you  can  win 


THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES.  57 

« 

her  good  opinion  you  had  better  be  gone.  The  Rus- 
sian city  Roms  have  apparently  no  such  fancies.  On 
the  road,  however,  life  is  patriarchal,  and  the  grand- 
mother is  a  power  to  be  feared.  As  a  fortune-teller 
she  is  a  witch,  ever  at  warfare  with  the  police  world ; 
she  has  a  bitter  tongue,  and  is  quick  to  wrath.  This 
was  not  the  style  or  fashion  of  the  old  gypsy  singer ; 
but,  as  soon  as  I  saw  the  puri  babali  dye,  I  requested 
that  she  would  shake  hand  with  me,  and  by  the  im- 
pression which  this  created  I  saw  that  the  Romany 
of  the  city  had  not  lost  all  the  feelings  of  the  road. 

I  spoke  of  WaramofFs  beautiful  song  of  the  "  Kras- 
neya  Sarafan,"  which  Sarsha  began  at  once  to  war- 
ble. The  characteristic  of  Russian  gypsy-girl  voices 
is  a  peculiarly  delicate  metallic  tone,  —  like  that  of 
the  two  silver  bells  of  the  Tower  of  Ivan  Velikoi 
when  heard  from  afar,  —  yet  always"  marked  with 
fineness  and  strength.  This  is  sometimes  startling 
in  the  wilder  effects,  but  it  is  always  agreeable. 
These  Moscow  gypsy  girls  have  a  great  name  in  their 
art,  and  it  was  round  the  shoulders  of  one  of  them  — 
for  aught  I  know  it  may  have  been  Sarsha's  great- 
grandmother  —  that  Catalani  threw  the  cashmere 
shawl  which  had  been  given  to  her  by  the  Pope  as 
"  to  the  best  singer  in  the  world."  "  It  is  not  mine 
by  right,"  said  the  generous  Italian  ;  "  it  belongs  to 
the  gypsy." 

The  gypsies  were  desirous  of  learning  something 
about  the  songs  of  their  kindred  in  distant  lands,  and, 
though  no  singer,  I  did  my  best  to  please  them,  the 
guitarist  easily  improvising  accompaniments,  while 
the  girls  joined  in.  As  all  were  in  a  gay  mood, 
faults  were  easily  excused,  and  the  airs  were  much 
liked,  —  one  lyric,  set  by  Virginia  Gabriel,  being  even 


58  THE  RUSSIAN'  GYPSIES. 

more  admired  in  Moscow  than  in  St.  Petersburg  , 
apropos  of  which  I  may  mention  that,  when  I  after- 
ward visited  the  gypsy  family  in  their  own  home, 
the  first  request  from  Sarsha  was,  " Eto  gilyo,  rya!" 
(That  song,  sir),  referring  to  "Romany,"  which  has 
been  heard  at  several  concerts  in  London.  And  so, 
after  much  discussion  of  the  affairs  of  Egypt,  I  took 
my  leave  amid  a  chorus  of  kind  farewells.  Then 
Vassili,  loudly  called  for,  reappeared  from  some  nook 
with  his  elegantly  frosted  horse,  and  in  a  few  minutes 
we  were  dashing  homeward.  Cold!  It  was  as  severe 
as  in  Western  New  York  or  Minnesota,  where  the 
thermometer  for  many  days  every  winter  sinks  lower 
than  in  St.  Petersburg,  but  where  there  are  no  such 
incredible  precautions  taken  as  in  the  land  of  double 
windows  cemented  down,  and  fur-lined  shubas.  It  is 
remarkable  that  the  gypsies,  although  of  Oriental 
origin,  are  said  to  surpass  the  Russians  in  enduring 
cold  ;  and  there  is  a  marvelous  story  told  about  a 
Romany  who,  for  a  wager,  undertook  to  sleep  naked 
against  a  clothed  Muscovite  on  the  ice  of  a  river  dur- 
ing an  unusually  cold  night.  In  the  morning  the 
Russian  was  found  frozen  stiff,  while  the  gypsy  was 
snoring  away  unharmed.  As  we  returned,  I  saw  in 
the  town  something  which  recalled  this  story  in  more 
than  one  monjik,  who,  well  wrapped  up,  lay  sleeping 
in  the  open  air,  under  the  lee  of  a  house.  1'assing 
through  silent  Moscow  on  the.  early  Christinas  morn, 
under  the  stars,  as  I  gazed  at  the  marvelous  city, 
which  yields  neither  to  Edinburgh,  Cairo,  nor  Prague 
in  picturesqueness,  and  thought  over  the  strange 
••vrning  I  had  spent  amon^  the  gypsies,  I  felt  as  if 
1  were  in  a  melodrama  with  striking  scenery.  The 
pleasing  finale  was  the  utter  amazement  and  almost 


THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES.  59 

speechless  gratitude  of  Vassili  at  getting  an  extra 
half-ruble  as  an  early  Christmas  gift. 

As  I  had  received  a  pressing  invitation  from  the 
gypsies  to  come  again,  I  resolved  to  pay  them  a  visit 
on  Christinas  afternoon  in  their  own  house,  if  I  could 
find  it.  Having  ascertained  that  the  gypsy  street  was 
in  a  distant  quarter,  called  the  Grrouszini,  I  engaged  a 
sleigh,  standing  before  the  door  of  the  Slavan ski- 
Bazaar  Hotel,  and  the  usual  close  bargain  with  the 
driver  was  effected  with  the  aid  of  a  Russian  gentle- 
man, a  stranger  passing  by,  who  reduced  the  ruble 
(one  hundred  kopecks)  at  first  demanded  to  seventy 
kopecks.  After  a  very  long  drive  we  found  ourselves 
in  the  gypsy  street,  and  the  istvostshik  asked  me,  "To 
what  house  ?  " 

"  I  don't  know,"  I  replied.  "  Gypsies  live  here, 
don't  they  ?  " 

"  Gypsies,  and  no  others." 

"  Well,  I  want  to  find  a  gypsy." 

The  driver  laughed,  and  just  at  that  instant  I  saw, 
as  if  awaiting  me  on  the  sidewalk,  Sarsha,  Liubasha, 
and  another  young  lady,  with  a  good-looking  youth, 
their  brother. 

"  This  will  do,"  I  said  to  the  driver,  who  appeared 
utterly  amazed  at  seeing  me  greeted  like  an  old  friend 
by  the  Zigani,  but  who  grinned  with  delight,  as  all 
Russians  of  the  lower  class  invariably  do  at  anything 
like  sociability  and  fraternity.  The  damsels  were 
faultlessly  attired  in  Russian  style,  with  full  fur- 
lined,  glossy  black-satin  cloaks  and  fine  Orenberg 
scarfs,  which  are,  I  believe,  the  finest  woolen  fabrics 
in  the  world.  The  party  were  particularly  anxious 
to  know  if  I  had  come  specially  to  visit  them,  for  I 
have  passed  over  the  fact  that  I  had  also  made  the 


60  THE  RUSSIAN   GYPSIES. 

acquaintance  of  another  very  large  family  of  gypsies, 
who  sang  at  a  rival  cafe,  and  who  had  also  treated 
me  very  kindly.  I  was  at  once  conducted  to  a  house, 
which  we  entered  in  a  rather  gypsy  way,  not  in  front, 
but  through  a  court,  a  back  door,  and  up  a  staircase, 
very  much  in  the  style  of  certain  dwellings  in  the 
Potteries  in  London.  But,  having  entered,  I  was  led 
through  one  or  two  neat  rooms,  where  I  saw  lying 
sound  asleep  on  beds,  but  dressed,  one  or  two  very 
dark  Romanys,  whose  faces  I  remembered.  Then 
we  passed  into  a  sitting-room,  which  was  very  well 
furnished.  I  observed  hanging  up  over  the  chimney- 
piece  a  good  collection  of  photographs,  nearly  all  of 
gypsies,  and  indicating  that  close  resemblance  to  Hin- 
doos which  comes  out  so  strongly  in  such  pictures, 
being,  in  fact,  more  apparent  in  the  pictures  than  in 
the  faces  ;  just  as  the  photographs  of  the  old  Ulfilas 
manuscript  revealed  alterations  not  visible  in  the 
original.  In  the  centre  of  the  group  was  a  cabinet- 
size  portrait  of  Sarsha,  and  by  it  another  of  an  Eng- 
lishman of  very  high  rank.  I  thought  this  odd,  but 
asked  no  questions. 

My  hosts  were  very  kind,  offering  me  promptly  a 
rich  kind  of  Russian  cake,  begging  to  know  what  else 
I  would  like  to  eat  or  drink,  and  apparently  dec-ply 
concerned  that  I  could  really  partake  of  nothing,  as  I 
had  just  come  from  luncheon.  They  were  all  light- 
hearted  and  gay,  so  that  the  music  began  at  once,  as 
wild  and  as  bewitching  as  ever.  And  here  I  observed, 
even  more  than  before,  how  thoroughly  sincere  these 
gypsies  were  in  their  art,  and  to  what  a  degree  they 
enjoyed  and  were,  excited  by  their  own  singing.  Here 
in  their  own  home,  warbling  like  birds  and  frolicking 
Like  children,  their  performance  was  even  more  de- 


THE  RUSSIAN   GYPSIES.  61 

lightful  than  it  had  been  in  the  concert-room.  There 
was  evidently  a  great  source  of  excitement  in  the 
fact  that  I  must  enjoy  it  far  more  than  an  ordinary 
stranger,  because  I  understood  Romany,  and  sympa- 
thized with  gypsy  ways,  and  regarded  them  not  as  the 
Graji  or  Gentiles  do,  but  as  brothers  and  sisters.  I 
confess  that  I  was  indeed  moved  by  the  simple  kind- 
ness with  which  I  was  treated,  and  I  knew  that,  with 
the  wonderfully  keen  perception  of  character  in  which 
gypsies  excel,  they  perfectly  understood  my  liking  for 
them.  It  is  this  ready  intuition  of  feelings  which, 
when  it  is  raised  from  an  instinct  to  an  art  by  prac- 
tice, enables  shrewd  old  women  to  tell  fortunes  with 
so  much  skill. 

I  was  here  introduced  to  the  mother  of  the  girls. 
She  was  a  neat,  pleasant-looking  woman,  of  perhaps 
forty  years,  in  appearance  and  manners  irresistibly  re- 
minding me  of  some  respectable  Cuban  lady.  Like 
the  others,  she  displayed  an  intelligent  curiosity  as 
to  my  knowledge  of  Romany,  and  I  was  pleased  at 
finding  that  she  knew  much  more  of  the  language 
than  her  children  did.  Then  there  entered  a  young 
Russian  gentleman,  but  not  "Prince  Paul."  He  was, 
however,  a  very  agreeable  person,  as  all  Russians  can 
be  when  so  minded;  and  they  are  always  so  minded 
when  they  gather,  from  information  or  conjecture, 
the  fact  that  the  stranger  whom  they  meet  is  one 
of  education  or  position.  This  young  gentleman 
spoke  French,  and  undertook  the  part  of  occasional 
translator. 

I  asked  Liubasha  if  any  of  them  understood  fort- 
une-telling. 

"  No ;  we  have  quite  lost  the  art  of  dorriki.1    None 

1  In  Old  English  Romany  this  is  called  dorrikin  ;  in  common  par- 
ance.  dukkerin.  Both  forms  are  real.lv  old. 


G2  TUB  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES. 

of  us  know  anything  about  it.  But  we  hear  that 
you  Romanichals  over  the  Black  Water  understand 
it.  Oh,  rya"  she  cried,  eagerly,  "you  know  so 
much, —  you  're  such  a  deep  Romany, — can't  you 
tell  fortunes?" 

"  I  should  indeed  know  very  little  about  Romany 
ways,"  I  replied,  gravely,  "  if  I  could  not  pen  dorriki. 
But  I  tell  you  beforehand,  terni  pen,  '  dorrikipen  hi 
hokanipen,'  little  sister,  fortune-telling  is  deceiving. 
Yet  what  the  lines  say  I  can  read." 

In  an  instant  six  as  pretty  little  gypsy  hands  as  I 
ever  beheld  were  thrust  before  me,  and  I  heard  as 
many  cries  of  delight.  "Tell  my  fortune,  rya!  tell 
mine!  and  mine!"''  exclaimed  the  damsels,  and  I 
complied.  It  was  all  very  well  to  tell  them  there 
was  nothing  in  it;  they  knew  a  trick  worth  two 
of  that.  I  perceived  at  once  that  the  faith  which 
endures  beyond  its  own  knowledge  was  placed  in  all 
I  said.  In  England  the.  gypsy  woman,  who  at  home 
ridicules  her  own  fortune-telling  and  her  dupes,  still 
pu(s  faith  in  a  (/itxvcri  innxli,  or  some  "wise  man," 
who  with  crystal  or  magical  apparatus  professes  oc- 
cult knowledge  ;  for  she  thinks  that  her  own  false  art 
is  ;in  imitation  of  a  true  one.  It  is  really  amusing  to 
see  the  reverence  with  which  an  old  gypsy  will  look 
at  the  awful  hieroglyphics  in  Cornelius  Agrippa's 
"  Occult  Philosophy;'  or,  better  still,  "  Trithemius," 
and,  as  a  gift,  any  ordinary  fortune-telling  book  is 
esteemed  by  them  beyond  rubies.  It  is  true  that 
they  cannot  read  it,  but  the  precious  volume  is  treas- 
ured like  a  fetich,  and  the  owner  is  happy  in  the 
thought  of  at  least  possessing  darksome  and  forbidden 
lore,  though  it  be  of  no  earthly  use  to  her.  After 
all  the  kindness  they  had  shown  me,  I  could  not  find 


THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES.  63 

it  in  my  heart  to  refuse  to  tell  these  gentle  Zingari 
their  little  fortunes.  It  is  not,  I  admit,  exactly  in 
the  order  of  things  that  the  chicken  should  dress  the 
cook,  or  the  Gorgio  tell  fortunes  to  gypsies ;  but  he 
who  wanders  in  strange  lands  meets  with  strange  ad- 
ventures. So,  with  a  full  knowledge  of  the  legal 
penalties  attached  in  England  to  palmistry  and  other 
conjuration,  and  with  the  then  pending  Slade  case 
knocking  heavily  on  my  conscience,  I  proceeded  to 
examine  and  predict.  When  I  afterward  narrated 
this  incident  to  the  late  G.  H.  Lewes,  he  expressed 
himself  to  the  effect  that  to  tell  fortunes  to  gypsies 
struck  him  as  the  very  ne  plus  ultra  of  cheek,  —  which 
shows  how  extremes  meet ;  for  verily  it  was  with  great 
modesty  and  proper  diffidence  that  I  ventured  to  fore- 
tell the  lives  of  these  little  ladies,  having  an  antipa- 
thy to  the  practice  of  chiromancing  as  to  other  ro- 
mancing. 

I  have  observed  that  as  among  men  of  great  and 
varied  culture,  and  of  extensive  experience,  there  are 
more  complex  and  delicate  shades  and  half-shades  of 
light  in  the  face,  so  in  the  palm  the  lines  are  corre- 
spondingly varied  and  broken.  Take  a  man  of  intel- 
lect and  a  peasant,  of  equal  excellence  of  figure  ac- 
cording to  the  literal  rules  of  art  or  of  anatomy,  and 
this  subtile  multiplicity  of  variety  shows  itself  in  the 
whole  body  in  favor  of  the  "gentleman,"  so  that  it 
would  almost  seem  as  if  every  book  we  read  is  repub- 
lished  in  the  person.  The  first  thing  that  struck  me 
in  these  gypsy  hands  was  the  fewness  of  the  lines, 
their  clearly  defined  sweep,  and  their  simplicity.  In 
every  one  the  line  of  life  was  unbroken,  and,  in  fine, 
one  might  think  from  a  drawing  of  the  hand,  and 
without  knowing  who  its  owner  might  be,  that  he  or 


64  THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES. 

she  was  of  a  type  of  character  unknown  in  most  great 
European  cities,  —  a  being  gifted  with  special  culture, 
and  in  a  certain  simple  sense  refined,  but  not  en- 
dowed with  experience  in  a  thousand  confused  phases 
of  life.  The  hands  of  a  true  genius,  who  has  passed 
through  life  earnestly  devoted  to  a  single  art,  how- 
ever, are  on  the  whole  like  these  of  the  gypsies. 
Such,  for  example,  are  the  hands  of  Fanny  Janau- 
schek,  the  lines  of  which  agree  to  perfection  with  the 
laws  of  chiromancy.  The  art  reminds  one  of  Cer- 
vantes's  ape,  who  told  the  past  and  present,  but  not 
the  future.  And  here  "  tell  me  what  thou  hast  been, 
and  I  will  tell  what  thou  wilt  be "  gives  a  fine  op- 
portunity to  the  soothsayer. 

To  avoid  mistakes  I  told  the  fortunes  in  French, 
which  was  translated  into  Russian.  I  need  not  say 
that  every  word  was  listened  to  with  earnest  atten- 
tion, or  that  the  group  of  dark  but  young  and  comely 
faces,  as  they  gathered  around  and  bent  over,  would 
have  made  a  good  subject  for  a  picture.  After  the 
girls,  the  mother  must  needs  hear  her  dorriki  also, 
and  hist  of  all  the  young  Russian  gentleman,  who 
seemed  to  take  as  earnest  an  interest  in  his  future  as 
even  the  gypsies.  As  he  alone  understood  French,  and 
as  lie  appeared  to  be  in/  />cn  </«t'fl«r<7,  and,  finally,  as 
the  lines  of  his  hand  said  nothing  to  the  contrary,  I 
predicted  for  him  in  detail  a  fortune  in  which  bonnes 
fortunes  were  not  at  all  wanting.  I  think  he  was 
pleased,  but  when  I  asked  him  if  he  would  translate 
what  I  had  said  of  his  future  into  Russian,  he  replied 
with  a  slight  wink  and  a  scarcely  perceptible  nega- 
1  suppose,  lie  had  his  reasons  for  declining. 

Then  we  had  singing  again,  and  Christopher,  th« 
brother,  a  wild  and  gay  young  gypsy,  became  so  ex 


THE  RUSSIAN  GYPSIES  65 

cited  that  while  playing  the  guitar  he  also  danced  and 
caroled,  and  the  sweet  voices  of  the  girls  rose  in  cho- 
rus, and  I  was  again  importuned  for  the  Romany 
song,  and  we  had  altogether  a  very  Bohemian  frolic. 
I  was  sorry  when  the  early  twilight  faded  into  night, 
and  I  was  obliged,  notwithstanding  many  entreaties 
to  the  contrary,  to  take  my  leave.  These  gypsies 
had  been  very  friendly  and  kind  to  me  in  a  strange 
city,  where  I  had  not  an  acquaintance,  and  where  I 
had  expected  none.  They  had  given  me  of  their 
very  best ;  for  they  gave  me  songs  which  I  can  never 
forget,  and  which  were  better  to  me  than  all  the  op- 
era could  bestow.  The  young  Russian,  polite  to  the 
last,  went  bareheaded  with  me  into  the  street,  and, 
hailing  u  sleigh-driver,  began  to  bargain  for  me.  In 
Moscow,  as  in  other  places,  it  makes  a  great  differ- 
ence in  the  fare  whether  one  takes  a  public  convey- 
ance from  before  the  first  hotel  or  from  a  house  in 
the  gypsy  quarter.  I  had  paid  seventy  kopecks  to 
come,  and  I  at  once  found  that  my  new  friend  and 
the  driver  were  engaged  in  wild  and  fierce  dispute 
whether  I  should  pay  twenty  or  thirty  to  return. 

"  Oh,  give  him  thirty  !  "  I  exclaimed.  "  It 's  little 
enough." 

"  Nbn,"  replied  the  Russian,  with  the  air  of  a  man 
of  principles.  "11  ne  faut  pas  gdter  ces  gens-la." 
But  I  gave  the  driver  thirty,  all  the  same,  when  we 
got  home,  and  thereby  earned  the  usual  shower  of 
blessings. 

A  few  days  afterward,  while  going  from  Moscow 
to  St.  Petersburg,  I  made  the  acquaintance  of  a  young 
Russian  noble  and  diplomat,  who  was  well  informed 
on  all  current  gossip,  and  learned  from  him  some 
mrious  facts.  The  first  young  gentleman  whom  I 


66  THE  RUSSIAN   GYPSIES. 

hud  seen  among  the  Romanys  of  Moscow  was  the 
son  of  a  Russian  prince  by  a  gypsy  mother,  and  the 
very  noble  Englishman  whose  photograph  I  had  seen 
in  Sarsha's  collection  had  not  l"iig  ngo  (as  rumor 
averred)  paid  desperate  attentions  to  the  belle  of  the 
Romanys  without  obtaining  the  least  success.  My 
informant  did  not  know  her  name.  Putting  this  and 
that  together,  I  think  it  highly  probable  that  Sarsha 
was  the  young  lady,  and  that  the  latcho  bar,  or  dia- 
mond, which  sparkled  on  her  finger  had  been  paid 
for  with  British  gold,  while  the  donor  had  gained  the 
same  "unluck"  which  befell  one  of  his  type  in  the 
Spanish  gypsy  song  as  given  by  George  Borrow  :  — • 

"  Loud  sang  the  Spanish  cavalier, 

And  thus  his  ditty  ran  : 
'  God  send  the  gypsy  maiden  here, 
But  not  the  gypsy  man.' 

"  On  high  arose  the  moon  so  bright, 

The  gypsy  'gan  to  81 
'I  see  a  Spaniard  coming  here, 
I  must  be  on  the  wing.  * " 


AUSTRIAN  GYPSIES. 


I. 

IN  June,  1878, 1  went  to  Paris,  during  the  great 
Exhibition.  I  had  been  invited  by  Monsieur  Ed- 
mond  About  to  attend  as  a  delegate  the  Congres  In- 
ternationale Litte'raire,  which  was  about  to  be  held  in 
the  great  city.  How  we  assembled,  how  M.  About 
distinguished  himself  as  one  of  the  most  practical  and 
common-sensible  of  men  of  genius,  and  how  we  were 
all  finally  harangued  by  M.  Victor  Hugo  with  the 
most  extraordinary  display  of  oratorical  sky-rockets, 
Catherine-wheels,  blue-lights,  fire-crackers,  and  pin- 
wheels  by  which  it  was  ever  my  luck  to  be  amused, 
is  matter  of  history.  But  this  chapter  is  only  autobi- 
ographical, and  we  will  pass  over  the  history.  As  an 
Anglo-American  delegate,  I  was  introduced  to  several 
great  men  gratis ;  to  the  greatest  of  all  I  introduced 
myself  at  the  expense  of  half  a  franc.  This  was  to 
the  Chinese  giant,  Chang,  who  was  on  exhibition  at 
a  small  caf£  garden  near  the  Trocadero.  There  were 
no  other  visitors  in  his  pavilion  when  I  entered.  He 
received  me  with  politeness,  and  we  began  to  con- 
verse in  fourth-story  English,  but  gradually  went 
down-stairs  into  Pidgin,  until  we  found  ourselves  fairly 
in  the  kitchen  of  that  humble  but  entertaining  dia- 
lect. It  is  a  remarkable  sensation  to  sit  alone  with 


68  AUSTRIAN  GYPSIES. 

a  mild  monster,  and  feel  like  a  little  boy.  I  do  not 
distinctly  remember  whether  Chang  is  eight,  or  ten, 
or  twelve  feet  high  ;  I  only  know  that,  though  I  am, 
as  lie  said,  "one  velly  big  piecee  man,"  I  sat  and 
lifted  my  eyes  from  time  to  time  at  the  usual  level, 
forgetfully  expecting  to  meet  his  eyes,  and  beheld 
instead  the  buttons  on  his  breast.  Then  I  looked 
up  —  like  Daruma  to  Buddha — and  up,  and  saw 
far  above  me  his  "  lights  of  the  soul  "  gleaming  down 
on  me  as  it  were  from  the  top  of  a  lofty  beacon. 

I  soon  found  that  Chang,  regarding  all  things  from 
a  giant's  point  of  view,  esteemed  mankind  by  their 
size  and  looks.  Therefore,  as  he  had  complimented 
me  according  to  his  lights,  I  replied  that  he  was  a 
"  numpa  one  too  muchee  glanti  handsome  man,  first 
chop  big." 

Then  he  added,  "  You  belongy  Inklis  man  ?  " 

"  No.  My  one  piecee  fa-ke-lcwok  ;  J  my  Mclican, 
galaw.  You  dlinkee  ale  some-tim  ?  " 

The  giant  replied  that  pay-wine,  which  is  Pidgin 
for  beer,  was  not  ungrateful  to  his  palate  or  foreign 
to  his  habits.  So  we  had  a  quart  of  Alsopp  between 
us,  and  drank  to  better  acquaintance.  I  found  that 
the  giant  had  exhibited  himself  in  many  lands,  and 
taken  great  pains  to  learn  the  language  of  each,  so 
that  he  spoke  German,  Italian,  and  Spanish  well 
enough.  He  had  been  at  a  mission-school  when  he 
used  to  "stop  China-side,"  or  was  in  his  native  land 
I  assured  him  that  I  had  perceived  it  from  the  first, 
because  he  evidently  "talked  ink,"  as  his  countrymen 
say  of  words  which  are  uttered  by  a  scholar,  and  I 
ilv  gratified  him  by  citing  some  of  my  own 
"  beautiful  verses,"  which  are  reversed  from  a  Chinese 
original :  — 

1  Flower-flag-nation  man  ;  that  is,  American. 


AUSTRIAN  GYPSIES.  69 

"  One  man  who  never  leadee l 
Like  one  dly  2  inkstan  be  : 
You  turn  he  up-side  downy, 
No  ink  lun  3  outside  he." 

So  we  parted  with,  mutual  esteem.  This  was  the 
second  man  by  the  name  of  Chang  whom  I  had 
known,  and  singularly  enough  they  were  both  exhib- 
ited as  curiosities.  The  other  made  a  living  as  a 
Siamese  twin,  and  his  brother  was  named  Eng.  They 
wrote  their  autographs  for  me,  and  put  them  wisely 
at  the  very  top  of  the  page,  lest  I  should  write  a 
promise  to  pay  an  immense  sum  of  money,  or  forge  a 
free  pass  to  come  into  the  exhibition  gratis  over  their 
signatures. 

Having  seen  Chang,  I  returned  to  the  HOtel  de 
Louvre,  dined,  and  then  went  forth  with  friends  to 
the  Orangerie.  This  immense  garden,  devoted  to 
concerts,  beer,  and  cigars,  is  said  to  be  capable  of 
containing  three  thousand  people ;  before  I  left  it 
it  held  about  five  thousand.  I  knew  not  why  this 
unwonted  crowd  had  assembled ;  when  I  found  the 
cause  I  was  astonished,  with  reason.  At  the  gate 
was  a  bill,  on  which  I  read  "  Les  Bohemiennes  de 
Moscow." 

"  Some  small  musical  comedy,  I  suppose,"  I  said  to 
myself.  "  But  let  us  see  it."  We  pressed  on. 

"  Look  there !  "  said  my  companion.  "  Those  are 
certainly  gypsies." 

Sure  enough,  a  procession  of  men  and  women, 
strangely  dressed  in  gayly  colored  Oriental  garments, 
was  entering  the  gates.  But  I  replied,  "  Impossible 
Not  here  in  Paris.  Probably  they  are  performers." 

"  But  see.     They  notice  yon.     That  girl  certainly 

1  Leadee,  reads.  2  Dly,  dry.  8  Lun,  run. 


70  AUSTRIAN  GYPSIES. 

knows  you.  She's  turning  her  head.  There, — I 
heard  her  say  O  Romany  rye !  " 

I  was  bewildered.  The  crowd  was  dense,  but  as 
the  procession  passed  me  at  a  second  turn  I  saw 
they  were  indeed  gypsies,  and  I  was  grasped  by  the 
hand  by  more  than  one.  They  were  my  old  friends 
from  Moscow.  This  explained  the  immense  multi- 
tude. There  was  during  the  Exhibition  a  great  furor 
as  regarded  les  zigains.  The  gypsy  orchestra  which 
performed  in  the  Hungarian  cafe  was  so  beset  by 
visitors  that  a  comic  paper  represented  them  as  cov- 
ering the  roofs  of  the  adjacent  houses  so  as  to  hear 
something.  This  evening  the  Russian  gypsies  were 
to  make  their  ddbut  in  the  Orangerie,  and  they  were 
frightened  at  their  own  success.  They  sang,  but 
their  voices  were  inaudible  to  two  thirds  of  the  audi- 
ence, and  those  who  could  not  hear  roared,  "  Louder  !  " 
Then  they  adjourned  to  the  open  air,  where  the  voices 
were  lost  altogether  on  a  crowd  calling,  "  Grarfon  — 
vite  —  une  tasse  caf^l"  or  applauding.  In  the  in- 
tervals scores  of  young  Russian  gentlemen,  golden 
swells,  who  had  known  the  girls  of  old,  gathered 
round  the  fair  ones  like  moths  around  tapers.  The 
singing  was  not  the  same  as  it  had  been  ;  the  voices 
were,  the  same,  but  the  sweet  wild  charm  of  the 
Romany  caroling,  bird-like,  for  pleasure  was  gone. 

But  I  found  by  themselves  and  unnoticed  two  of 
the  troupe,  whom  I  shall  not  soon  forget.  They  were; 
two  very  handsome  youths, —  one  of  sixteen  years, 
the  oilier  twenty.  And  with  the  first  words  in  Rom- 
any they  fairly  jumped  for  joy,  and  the  artist  who 
could  have  caught  their  picture  then  would  have 
made  a  brave  one.  They  were  clad  in  blouses  of 
colored  silk,  which,  with  their  fine  dark  complexions 


AUSTRIAN  GYPSIES.  71 

and  great  black  eyes,  gave  them  a  very  picturesque 
air.  These  had  not  seen  me  in  Russia,  nor  had  they 
heard  of  me ;  they  were  probably  from  Novogorod. 
Like  the  girls  they  were  children,  but  in  a  greater 
degree,  for  they  had  not  been  flattered,  and  kind 
words  delighted  them  so  that  they  clapped  their 
hands.  They  began  to  hum  gypsy  songs,  and  had  I 
not  prevented  it  they  would  have  run  at  once  and 
brought  a  guitar,  and  improvised  a  small  concert  for 
me  al  fresco.  I  objected  to  this,  not  wishing  to  take 
part  any  longer  in  such  a  very  public  exhibition. 
For  the  gobe-moucfies  and  starers,  noticing  a  stranger 
talking  with  ces  zigains,  had  begun  to  gather  in  a 
dense  crowd  around  us,  and  the  two  ladies  and  the 
gentleman  who  were  with  us  were  seriously  incon- 
venienced. We  endeavored  to  step  aside,  but  the 
multitude  stepped  aside  also,  and  would  not  let  us 
alone.  They  were  French,  but  they  might  have 
been  polite.  As  it  was,  they  broke  our  merry  con- 
ference up  effectively,  and  put  us  to  flight. 

"  Do  let  us  come  and  see  you,  rya"  said  the 
younger  boy.  "  We  will  sing,  for  I  can  really  sing 
beautifully,  and  we  like  you  so  much.  Where  do 
you  live  ?  " 

I  could  not  invite  them,  for  I  was  about  to  leave 
Paris,  as  I  then  supposed.  I  have  never  seen  them 
since,  and  there  was  no  adventure  and  no  strange 
scenery  beyond  the  thousands  of  lights  and  guests 
and  trees  and  voices  speaking  French.  Yet  to  this 
day  the  gay  boyishness,  the  merry  laughter,  and  the 
child-like  naivctS  of  the  promptly-formed  liking  of 
those  gypsy  youths  remains  impressed  on  my  mind 
with  all  the  color  and  warmth  of  an  adventure  or  a 
living  poem.  Can  you  recall  no  child  by  any  way- 


72  AUSTRIAN  GYPSIES. 

side  of  life  to  whom  you  have  given  a  chance  smile 
or  a  kind  word,  and  been  repaid  with  artless  sudden 
attraction  ?  For  to  all  of  us,  —  yes,  to  the  coldest  and 
worst,  —  there  are  such  memories  of  young  people,  of 
children,  and  I  pity  him  who,  remembering  them, 
does  not  feel  the  touch  of  a  vanished  hand  and  hear 
a  chord  which  is  still.  There  are  adventures  which 
we  can  tell  to  others  as  stories,  but  the  best  have  no 
story ;  they  may  be  only  the  memory  of  a  strange 
dog  which  followed  us,  and  I  have  one  such  of  a  cat 
who,  without  any  introduction,  leaped  wildly  towards 
me,  "  and  would  not  thence  away."  It  is  a  good  life 
which  has  many  such  memories. 

I  was  walking  a  day  or  two  after  with  an  English 
friend,  who  was  also  a  delegate  to  the  International 
Literary  Congress,  in  the  Exhibition,  when  we  ap- 
proached the  side  gate,  or  rear  entrance  of  the  Hun- 
garian cafe*.  Six  or  seven  dark  and  strange-looking 
men  stood  about,  dressed  in  the  uniform  of  a  military 
band.  I  caught  their  glances,  and  saw  that  they  were 
Romany. 

"  Now  you  shall  see  something  queer,"  I  said  to 
my  friend. 

So  advancing  to  the  first  dark  man  I  greeted  him 
in  gypsy. 

"  I  do  not  understand  you,"  he  promptly  replied  — 
or  lied. 

I  turned  to  a  second. 

"  You  have  more  sense,  and  you  do  understand. 
Adro  miro  tern  penena  mande  o  baro  rai"  (In  my 
country  the  gypsies  call  me  the  great  gentleman.) 

This  phrase  may  be  translated  to  mean  either  the 
"  tall  gentleman  "  or  the  "  great  lord."  It  was  ap- 
parently taken  in  the  latter  sense,  for  at  once  all  the 


AUSTRIAN  GYPSIES.  73 

party  bowed  very  low,  raising  their  bands  to  tbeir 
foreheads,  in  Oriental  fashion. 

"  Hallo  !  "  exclaimed  my  English  friend,  who  had 
not  understood  what  I  had  said.  "  What  game  is 
this  you  are  playing  on  these  fellows  ?  " 

Up  to  the  front  came  a  superior,  the  leader  of  the 
band. 

44  Great  God  !  "  he  exclaimed,  '4  what  is  this  I  hear? 
This  is  wonderful.  To  think  that  there  should  be 
anybody  here  to  talk  with  !  I  can  only  talk  Magyar 
and  Romanes." 

44  And  what  do  you  talk  ?  "  I  inquired  of  the  first 
violin. 

44  IcJi  spreche  nur  Deutsch  !  "  he  exclaimed,  with  a 
strong  Vienna  accent  and  a  roar  of  laughter.  44 1 
only  talk  German." 

This  worthy  man,  I  found,  was  as  much  delighted 
with  my  German  as  the  leader  with  my  gypsy  ;  and 
in  all  my  experience  I  never  met  two  beings  so 
charmed  at  being  able  to  converse.  That  I  should 
have  met  with  them  was  of  itself  wonderful.  Only 
there  was  this  difference :  that  the  Viennese  burst 
into  a  laugh  every  time  he  spoke,  while  the  gypsy 
grew  more  sternly  solemn  and  awfully  impressive. 
There  are  people  to  whom  mere  talking  is  a  pleas- 
ure, —  never  mind  the  ideas,  —  and  here  I  had  struck 
two  at  once.  I  once  knew  a  gentleman  named  Stew- 
art. He  was  the  mayor,  first  physician,  and  post- 
master of  St.  Paul,  Minnesota.  While  camping  out, 
en  route,  and  in  a  tent  with  him,  it  chanced  that 
among  the  other  gentlemen  who  had  tented  with  us 
there  were  two  terrible  snorers.  Now  Mr.  Stewart 
had  heard  that  you  may  stop  a  man's  snoring  by 
whistling.  And  here  was  a  wonderful  opportunity. 


74  AUSTRIAN  GYPSIES. 

"So  I  waited,"  he  said,  "  until  one  man  was  coining 
down  \vitli  his  snore,  diminuendo,  while  the  other 
was  rising,  crescendo,  and  at  the  exact  point  of  inter- 
section, moderate,  I  blew  my  car-whistle,  and  so  got 
both  birds  at  one  shot.  I  stopped  them  both." 
Even  as  Mayor  Stewart  had  winged  his  two  birds 
with  one  ball  had  I  hit  my  two  peregrines. 

"  We  are  now  going  to  perform,"  said  the  gypsy 
captain.  "  Will  you  not  take  seats  on  the  platform, 
and  hear  us  play  ?  " 

I  did  not  know  it  at  the  time,  but  I  heard  after- 
wards that  this  was  a  great  compliment,  and  one 
rarely  bestowed.  The  platform  was  small,  and  we 
were  very  near  our  new  friends.  Scarcely  had  the 
performance  begun  ere  I  perceived  that,  just  as  the 
gypsies  in  Russia  had  sung  their  best  in  my  honor, 
these  artists  were  exerting  themselves  to  the  utmost, 
and,  all  unheeding  the  audience,  playing  directly  at 
me  and  into  me.  When  any  tuur  was  deftly  made 
the  dark  master  nodded  to  me  with  gleaming  ey. 
if  saying,  "  What  do  you  think  of  that,  now  ?  "  The 
Viennese  laughed  for  joy  every  time  his  glance  met 
mine,  and  as  I  looked  at  the  various  Lajoshes  and 
Joshkas  of  the  band,  they  blew,  beat,  or  scraped  with 
redoubled  fury,  or  sank  into  thrilling  tenderness. 
Hurrah  !  here  was  somebody  to  play  to  who  knew 
gypsy  and  all  the  games  thereof;  for  a  very  little, 
even  a  word,  reveals  a,  ^Teat  deal,  and  I  must  be  a 
virtuoso,  at  least  by  Romany,  if  not  by  art.  It  was 
with  all  the  joy  of  success  that  the  first  piece  ended 
amid  thunders  of  applause. 

I    not    the    racoczy"   I    said.     "  Yet  it 
sounded  like  it." 

"  No,"  said  the  captain.     "  But  now  you  shall  hear 


AUSTRIAN  GYPSIES.  75 

the  racoczy  and  the  czardas  as  you  never  heard  them 
before.  For  we  can  play  that  better  than  any  or- 
chestra in  Vienna.  Truly,  you  will  never  forget  us 
after  hearing  it." 

And  then  they  played  the  racoczy,  the  national 
Hungarian  favorite,  of  gypsy  composition,  with  heart 
and  soul.  As  these  men  played  for  me,  inspired  with 
their  own  music,  feeling  and  enjoying  it  far  more  than 
the  audience,  and  all  because  they  had  got  a  gypsy 
gentleman  to  play  to,  I  appreciated  what  a  life  that 
was  to  them,  and  what  it  should  be ;  not  cold-blooded 
skill,  aiming  only  at  excellence  or  preexcellence  and 
at  setting  up  the  artist,  but  a  fire  and  a  joy,  a  self- 
forgetfulness  which  whirls  the  soul  away  as  the  soul 
of  the  Moenad  went  with  the  stream  adown  the 
mountains,  — Evoe  Bacchus  !  This  feeling  is  deep  in 
the  heart  of  the  Hungarian  gypsy ;  he  plays  it,  he 
feels  it  in  every  air,  he  knows  the  rush  of  the  stream 
as  it  bounds  onwards,  —  knows  that  it  expresses  his 
deepest  desire  ;  and  so  he  has  given  it  words  in  a 
song  which,  to  him  who  has  the  key,  is  one  of  the 
most  touching  ever  written  :  — 

"  Dyal  o  pani  repedishis, 
M'ro  pirano  hegedishis ; 

"  Dyal  o  pani  tale  vatra, 
M'ro  pirano  klanetaha. 

"  Dyal  o  pani  pe  kishai 
M'ro  pirano  tsino  rai." 

"  The  stream  runs  on  with  rushing  din 
As  I  hear  my  true  love's  violin; 

"  And  the  river  rolls  o'er  rock  and  stone 
As  he  plays  the  flute  so  sweet  alone. 

"  Runs  o'er  the  sand  as  it  began, 
Then  my  true  love  lives  a  gentleman." 


76  AUSTRIAN  GYPSIES. 

Yes,  music  whirling  the  soul  away  as  on  a  rushing 
river,  the  violin  notes  falling  like  ripples,  the  flute 
tones  all  aflow  among  the  rocks  ;  and  when  it  sweeps 
adagio  on  the  sandy  bed,  then  the  gypsy  player  is 
at  heart  equal  to  a  lord,  then  he  feels  a  gentleman. 
The  only  true  republic  is  art.  There  all  earthly  dis- 
tinctions pass  away ;  there  he  is  best  who  lives  and 
feels  best,  and  makes  others  feel,  not  that  he  is  clev- 
erer than  they,  but  that  he  can  awaken  sympathy 
and  joy. 

The  intense  reality  of  musical  art  as  a  comforter 
to  these  gypsies  of  Eastern  Europe  is  wonderful. 
Among  certain  inedited  songs  of  the  Trail sylvanian 
gypsies,  in  the  Kolosvarer  dialect,  I  find  the  fol- 
lowing :  — 

"  Na  janav  ko  dad  m'ro  as, 

Niko  mallen  mange  as, 

Miro  gule  dai  merdyas 

Pirani  me  pregelyas. 

Uva  tu  o  hegcdive 

Tu  sal  miudlk  pash  mange." 

"  I  Ve  known  no  father  since  my  birth, 
I  have  no  friend  alive  on  earth  ; 
My  mother  's  dead  this  many  day, 
The  girl  I  loved  has  gone  her  way  ; 
Thou  violin  with  music  free 
Alone  art  ever  true  to  me." 

It  is  very  wonderful  that  the  charm  of  the  Russian 
gypsy  girls'  singing  was  destroyed  by  the  atmosphere 
or  applause  of  a  Paris  concert-room,  while  the  Hun- 
garian Romanys  conquered  it  as  it  were  by  sheer 
force,  and  by  conquering  gave  their  music  the  charm 
of  intensity.  I  do  not  deny  that  in  this  music,  be  it 
of  voice  or  instruments,  there  is  much  which  is  per- 
haps imagined,  which  depends  on  association,  which 
is  plain  to  John  but  not  to  Jack  ;  but  you  have  only 


AUSTRIAN  GYPSIES.  77 

fco  advance  or  retreat  a  few  steps  to  find  the  same  in 
the  highest  art.  This,  at  least,  we  know:  that  no  per- 
former at  any  concert  in  London  can  awake  the  feel- 
ing of  intense  enjoyment  which  these  wild  minstrels 
excite  in  themselves  and  in  others  by  sympathy. 
Now  it  is  a  question  in  many  forms  as  to  whether 
art  for  enjoyment  is  to  die,  and  art  for  the  sake  of 
art  alone  survive.  Is  joyous  and  healthy  nature  to 
vanish  step  by  step  from  the  heart  of  man,  and  mor- 
bid, egoistic  pessimism  to  take  its  place  ?  Are  over- 
culture,  excessive  sentiment,  constant  self-criticism, 
and  all  the  brood  of  nervous  curses  to  monopolize 
and  inspire  art  ?  A  fine  alliance  this  they  are  mak- 
ing, the  ascetic  monk  and  the  atheistic  pessimist,  to 
kill  Nature  !  They  will  never  effect  it.  It  may  die 
in  many  forms.  It  may  lose  its  charm,  as  the  singing 
of  Sarsha  and  of  Liubasha  was  lost  among  the  rust- 
ling and  noise  of  thousands  of  Parisian  ladauds  in 
the  Orangerie.  But  there  will  be  stronger  forms  of 
art,  which  will  make  themselves  heard,  as  the  Hun- 
garian Romanys  heeded  no  din,  and  bore  all  away  with 
their  music. 

"  Latcho  divvus  miri  pralia  !  —  miduvel  atch  pa 
tumende!"  (Good-day,  my  brothers.  God  rest  on 
you)  I  said,  and  they  rose  and  bowed,  and  I  went 
forth  into  the  Exhibition.  It  was  a  brave  show,  that 
of  all  the  fine  things  from  all  parts  of  the  world  which 
man  can  make,  but  to  me  the  most  interesting  of  all 
>vere  the  men  themselves.  Will  not  the  managers  of 
the  next  world  show  give  us  a  living  ethnological 
department  ? 

Of  these  Hungarian  gypsies  who  played  in  Paris 
during  the  Exhibition  much  was  said  in  the  news- 
papers, and  from  the  following,  which  appeared  in  an 


78  AUSTRIAN  GYPSIES. 

American  journal,  written  by  some  one  to  me  un- 
known, the  reader  may  learn  that  there  were  many 
others  to  whom  their  music  was  deeply  thrilling  or 
wildly  exciting  :  — 

"  The  Hungarian  Tziganes  (Zigeuner)  are  the  rage 
just  now  at  Paris.  The  story  is  that  Liszt  picked  out 
the  individuals  composing  the  band  one  by  one  from 
among  the  gypsy  performers  in  Hungary  and  Bo- 
hemia. Half-civilized  in  appearance,  dressed  in  an 
unbecoming  half-military  costume,  they  are  nothing 
while  playing  Strauss'  waltzes  or  their  own  ;  but 
when  they  play  the  Radetsky  Defile,  the  Racoksky 
March,  or  their  marvelous  czardas,  one  sees  and 
hears  the  battle,  and  it  is  easy  to  understand  the  in- 
fluence of  their  music  in  fomenting  Hungarian  revo- 
lutions ;  why  for  so  long  it  was  made  treasonable  to 
play  or  listen  to  these  czardas ;  and  why,  as  they 
heard  them,  men  rose  to  their  feet,  gathered  together, 
and  with  tears  rolling  down  tlirir  faces,  and  throats 
swelling  with  emotion,  departed  to  do  or  die." 

And  when  I  remember  that  they  played  for  me  as 
they  said  they  had  played  for  no  other  man  in  Paris, 
"into  the  ear,"  —  and  when  I  think  of  the  gleam  in 
their  eyes,  I  verily  believe  they  told  the  truth,  —  I  feel 
^lad  that  I  chanced  that  morning  on  those  dark  men 
and  spoke  to  them  in  Romany. 

Since  the  above  was  written  I  have  met  in  an 
tntertaining  work  called  "Unknown  limitary,"  by 
Victor  Tissot,  with  certain  remarks  on  the  Hungarian 
gypsy  musicians  which  are  so  appropriate  that  I  cite 
them  in  full :  — 

"  The  gypsy  artists  in  Hungary  play  by  inspira- 
tion, with  inimitable  verve  and  spirit,  without  even 


AUSTRIAN   GYPSIES.  79 

knowing  their  notes,  and  nothing  whatever  of  the 
rhymes  and  rules  of  the  masters.  Liszt,  who  has 
closely  studied  them,  says,  The  art  of  music  being 
for  them  a  sublime  language,  a  song,  mystic  in  itself, 
though  dear  to  the  initiated,  they  use  it  according  to 
the  wants  of  the  moment  which  they  wish  to  express. 
They  have  invented  their  music  for  their  own  use,  to 
eing  about  themselves  to  themselves,  to  express  them- 
selves in  the  most  heartfelt  and  touching  monologues. 

"  Their  music  is  as  free  as  their  lives ;  no  inter- 
mediate modulation,  no  chords,  no  transition,  it  goes 
from  one  key  to  another.  From  ethereal  heights 
they  precipitate  you  into  the  howling  depths  of  hell ; 
froxi  the  plaint,  barely  heard,  they  pass  brusquely  to 
the  warrior's  song,  which  bursts  loudly  forth,  passion- 
ate and  tender,  at  once  burning  and  calm.  Their 
melodies  plunge  you  into  a  melancholy  reverie,  or 
carry  you  away  into  a  stormy  whirlwind  ;  they  are  a 
faithful  expression  of  the  Hungarian  character,  some- 
times quick,  brilliant,  and  lively,  sometimes  sad  and 
apathetic. 

"  The  gypsies,  when  they  arrived  in  Hungary,  had 
no  music  of  their  own  ;  they  appropriated  the  Mag- 
yar music,  and  made  from  it  an  original  art  which 
now  belongs  to  them." 

I  here  break  in  upon  Messieurs  Tissot  and  Liszt  to 
remark  that,  while  it  is  very  probable  that  the  Roms 
reformed  Hungarian  music,  it  is  rather  boldly  assumed 
that  they  had  no  music  of  their  own.  It  was,  among 
other  callings,  as  dancers  and  musicians  that  they  left 
India  and  entered  Europe,  and  among  them  were 
doubtless  many  descendants  of  the  ten  thousand  Indo- 
Persian  Luris  or  Nuris.  But  to  resume  quotation:  — 

"  They  made  from  it  an  art  full  of  life,  passion, 


80  AUSTRIAN   GYPSIES. 

laughter,  and  tears.  The  instrument  which  the  gyp- 
sies prefer  is  the  violin,  which  they  call  las'  alja,  '  the 
king  of  instruments.'  They  also  play  the  viola,  the 
cymbal,  and  the  clarionet. 

"  There  was  a  pause.  The  gypsies,  who  had  per- 
ceived at  a  table  a  comfortable-looking  man,  evi- 
dently wealthy,  and  on  a  pleasure  excursion  in  the 
town,  came  down  from  their  platform,  and  ranged 
themselves  round  him  to  give  him  a  serenade  all  to 
himself,  as  is  their  custom.  They  call  this  '  playing 
into  the  ear.' 

"  They  first  asked  the  gentleman  his  favorite  air, 
and  then  played  it  with  such  spirit  and  enthusiasm 
and  overflowing  richness  of  variation  and  ornament, 
and  with  so  much  emotion,  that  it  drew  forth  the 
applause  of  the  whole  company.  After  this  they 
executed  a  czardas,  one  of  the  wildest,  most  feverish, 
harshest,  and,  one  may  say,  tormenting,  as  if  to  pour 
intoxication  into  the  soul  of  their  listener.  They 
watched  his  countenance  to  note  the  impression  pro- 
duced by  the  passionate  rhythm  of  their  instruments; 
then,  breaking  off  suddenly,  they  played  a  hushed, 
soft,  caressing  measure  ;  and  again,  almost  breaking 
the  trembling  cords  of  their  bows,  they  produced 
Biich  an  intensity  of  effect  that  the  listener  was  al- 
most beside  himself  with  delight  and  astonishment. 
He  sat  as  if  bewitched ;  he  shut  his  eyes,  hung  his 
head  in  melancholy,  or  raised  it  with  a  start,  as  the 
music  varied ;  then  jumped  up  and  struck  the  back 
of  his  head  with  his  hands.  He  positively  lauglunl 
\ml  cried  at  once;  then,  drawing  a  roll  of  bank-notes 
from  his  pocket-book,  lie  threw  it  to  the  gypsies,  and 
fell  back  in  his  chair,  as  if  exhausted  with  so  much 
enjoyment.  And  in  this  lies  the  triumph  of  tho 


AUSTRIAN  GYPSIES.  81 

gypsy  music  ;  it  is  like  that  of  Orpheus,  which  moved 
the  rocks  and  trees.  The  soul  of  the  Hungarian 
plunges,  with  a  refinement  of  sensation  that  we  can 
understand,  but  cannot  follow,  into  this  music,  which, 
like  the  unrestrained  indulgence  of  the  imagination  in 
fantasy  and  caprice,  gives  to  the  initiated  all  the  in- 
toxicating sensations  experienced  by  opium  smokers." 
The  Austrian  gypsies  have  many  songs  which  per- 
fectly reflect  their  character.  Most  of  them  are  only 
single  verses  of  a  few  lines,  such  as  are  sung  every- 
where in  Spain  ;  others,  which  are  longer,  seem  to 
have  grown  from  the  connection  of  these  verses.  The 
following  translation  from  the  Roumanian  Romany 
(Vassile  Alexandri)  gives  an  idea  of  their  style  and 
spirit :  - 

GYPSY  SONG. 

The  wind  whistles  over  the  heath, 
The  moonlight  flits  over  the  flood; 
And  the  gypsy  lights  up  his  fire, 
In  the  darkness  of  the  wood. 

Hurrah ! 
In  the  darkness  of  the  wood. 

Free  is  the  bird  in  the  air, 
And  the  fish  where  the  river  flows; 
Free  is  the  deer  in  the  forest, 
And  the  gypsy  wherever  he  goes. 

Hurrah ! 
And  the  gypsy  wherever  he  goes. 

A  GORGIO  GENTLEMAN  SPEAKS 

Girl,  wilt  thou  live  in  my  home? 
I  will  give  thee  a  sable  gown, 
And  golden  coins  for  a  necklace, 
If  thou  wilt  be  my  own. 

GYPSY   GIRL. 

No  wild  horse  will  leave  the  prairie 
For  a  harness  with  silver  stars ; 


82  AUSTRIAN  GYPSIES. 

Nor  an  eagle  the  crags  of  the  mountain, 
For  a  cage  with  golden  bars  ; 

Nor  the  gypsy  girl  the  forest, 

Or  the  meadow,  though  gray  and  cold, 

For  garments  made  of  sable, 

Or  necklaces  of  gold. 

THE    GORGIO. 

Girl,  wilt  thou  live  in  my  dwelling, 
For  pearls  and  diamonds  true  ? l 
I  will  give  thee  a  bed  of  scarlet, 
And  a  royal  palace,  too. 

GYPSY    GIRL. 

My  white  teeth  are  my  pearlins, 
My  diamonds  my  own  black  eyes  ; 
My  bed  is  the  soft  green  meadow, 
My  palace  the  world  as  it  lies. 

Free  is  the  bird  in  the  air, 
And  the  fish  where  the  river  flows; 
Free  is  the  deer  in  the  forest, 
And  the  gypsy  wherever  he  goes. 

Hurrah ! 
And  the  gypsy  wherever  he  goes. 

There  is  a  deep,  strange  element  in  the  gypsy  char- 
acter, which  finds  no  sympathy  or  knowledge  in  the 
German,  and  very  little  in  other  Europeans,  but 
which  is  so  much  in  accord  with  the  Slavonian  and 
Hungarian  that  he  who  truly  feels  it  with  love  is  often 
disposed  to  mingle  them  together.  It  is  a  dreamy 
mysticism ;  an  indefinite  semi-supernaturalism,  often 
passing  into  gloom;  a  feeling  as  of  Buddhism  which 
has  glided  into  Northern  snows,  and  taken  a  new  and 
darker  life  in  winter-lands.  It  is  strong  in  the  Czech 
or  Bohemian,  whose  nature  is  the  worst  understood 
in  the  civilized  world.  That  he  should  hate  the  Ger- 

1  Diamonds  true.     0  latcho  bar  (in  England,  tatcho  bar),  "  the  true 
»r  real  stone,"  is  the  gypsy  for  a  diamond. 


AUSTRIAN  GYPSIES.  83 

man  with  all  his  heart  and  soul  is  in  the  order  of 
things.  We  talk  about  the  mystical  Germans,  but 
German  self-conscious  mysticism  is  like  a  problem  of 
Euclid  beside  the  natural,  unexpressed  dreaminess  of 
the  Czech.  The  German  mystic  goes  to  work  at  once 
to  expound  his  "  system  "  in  categories,  dressing  it  up 
in  a  technology  which  in  the  end  proves  to  be  the  only 
mystery  in  it.  The  Bohemian  and  gypsy,  each  in 
their  degrees  of  culture,  form  no  system  and  make  no 
technology,  but  they  feel  all  the  more.  Now  the 
difference  between  true  and  imitative  mysticism  is 
that  the  former  takes  no  form ;  it  is  even  narrowed 
by  religious  creeds,  and  wing-clipt  by  pious  "  illumi- 
nation." Nature,  and  nature  alone,  is  its  real  life. 
It  was  from  the  Southern  Slavonian  lands  that  all  real 
mysticism,  and  all  that  higher  illumination  which 
means  freedom,  came  into  Germany  and  Europe ; 
and  after  all,  Germany's  first  and  best  mystic,  Jacob 
Bohme,  was  Bohemian  by  name,  as  he  was  by  nat- 
ure. When  the  world  shall  have  discovered  who  the 
as  yet  unknown  Slavonian  German  was  who  wrote 
all  the  best  part  of  "  Consuelo,"  and  who  helped  him- 
self in  so  doing  from  "  Der  letzte  Taborit,"  by  Her- 
lossohn,  we  shall  find  one  of  the  few  men  who  under- 
stood the  Bohemian. 

Once  in  a  while,  as  in  Fanny  Janauschek,  the 
Czech  bursts  out  into  art,  and  achieves  a  great  tri- 
umph. I  have  seen  Rachel  and  Ristori  many  a  time, 
but  their  best  acting  was  shallow  compared  to  Janau- 
Bchek's,  as  I  have  seen  it  in  by-gone  years,  when  she 
played  Iphigenia  and  Medea  in  German.  No  one 
save  a  Bohemian  could  ever  so  intuit  the  gloomy 
profundity  and  unearthly  fire  of  the  Colchian  sorcer- 
ess. These  are  the  things  required  to  perfect  every 


84  AUSTRIAN   GYPSIES. 

artist,  —  above  all,  the  tragic  artist,  —  that  the  tree 
of  his  or  her  genius  shall  not  only  soar  to  heaven 
among  the  angels,  but  also  have  roots  in  the  depths 
of  darkness  and  fire ;  and  that  he  or  she  shall  play 
not  only  to  the  audience,  and  in  sympathy  with  them, 
but  also  unto  one's  self  and  down  to  one's  deepest 
dreams. 

No  one  will  accuse  me  of  wide  discussion  or  pad- 
ding who  understands  my  drift  in  this  chapter.  I  am 
speaking  of  the  gypsy,  and  I  cannot  explain  him  more 
clearly  than  by  showing  his  affinities  with  the  Slavo- 
nian and  Magyar,  and  how,  through  music  and  prob- 
ably in  many  other  ways,  he  has  influenced  them.  As 
the  Spaniard  perfectly  understands  the  objective  vag- 
abond side  of  the  Gitano,  so  the  Southeastern  Euro- 
pean understands  the  musical  and  wild-forest  yearn- 
ings of  the  Tsigane.  Both  to  gypsy  and  Slavonian 
there  is  that  which  makes  them  dream  so  that  even 
debauchery  has  for  them  at  times  an  unearthly  in- 
spiration ;  and  as  smoking  was  inexpressibly  sacred  to 
the  red  Indians  of  old,  so  that  when  the  Guatemalan 
Christ  harried  hell,  the  demons  offered  him  cigars ; 
in  like  manner  tipsiness  is  often  to  the  gypsy  and 
Servian,  or  Czech,  or  Croat,  something  so  serious  and 
impressive  that  it  is  a  thing  not  to  be  lightly  thought 
of,  but  to  be  undertaken  with  intense  deliberation 
and  under  due  appreciation  of  its  benefits. 

Many  years  ago,  when  I  had  begun  to  feel  this 
strange  element  I  gave  it  expression  in  a  poem  which 
I  called  "  The  Bohemian,"  as  expressive  of  both  gypsy 
and  Slavonian  nature :  — 


AUSTRIAN  GYPSIES.  85 


THE  BOHEMIAN. 

Chces  li  tajiiou  vee  aneb  pravdu  vyzvM6ti 
Blazen,  dit6  opily  clov^k  o  torn  umeji  povodeti. 

Wouldst  thou  know  a  truth  or  mystery, 
A  drunkard,  fool,  or  child  may  toll  it  thee 

BOHEMIAN  PEOVBKB 

And  now  I  '11  wrap  my  blanket  o'er  me, 

And  on  the  tavern  floor  I  '11  lie, 
A  double  spirit-flask  before  me, 

And  watch  my  pipe  clouds,  melting,  die. 

They  melt  and  die,  but  ever  darken 

As  night  comes  on  and  hides  the  day, 
Till  all  is  black  ;  then,  brothers,  hearken, 

And  if  ye  can  write  down  my  lay. 

In  yon  long  loaf  my  knife  is  gleaming, 

Like  one  black  sail  above  the  boat ; 
As  once  at  Pesth  I  saw  it  beaming, 

Half  through  a  dark  Croatian  throat. 

Now  faster,  faster,  whirls  the  ceiling, 

And  wilder,  wilder,  turns  my  brain ; 
And  still  I  '11  drink,  till,  past  all  feeling, 

My  soul  leaps  forth  to  light  again. 

Whence  come  these  white  girls  wreathing  round  me  ? 

Barushka !  —  long  I  thought  thee  dead ; 
Katchenka !  — when  these  arms  last  bound  thee 

Thou  laid'st  by  Rajrad,  cold  as  lead. 

And  faster,  faster,  whirls  the  ceiling, 

And  wilder,  wilder,  turns  my  brain ; 
And  from  afar  a  star  comes  stealing 

Straight  at  me  o'er  the  death-black  plain. 

Alas  !  I  sink.     My  spirits  miss  me. 

I  swim,  I  shoot  from  shore  to  shore ! 
Klara!  thou  golden  sister  —  kiss  me  ! 

I  rise —  I  'in  safe  — I  'rn  strong  once  more. 

And  faster,  faster,  whirls  the  ceiling, 
And  wilder,  wilder,  whirls  my  brain; 


86  AUSTRIAN  GYPSIES. 

The  star  !  —  it  strikes  my  soul,  revealing 
All  life  aiid  light  to  me  again. 


Against  the  waves  f  resli  waves  are  dashing, 
Above  the  breeze  fresh  breezes  blow; 

Through  seas  of  light  new  light  is  flashing, 
And  with  them  all  I  float  and  flow, 

Yet  round  me  rings  of  fire  are  gleanJng,  — 
Pale  rings  of  fire,  wild  eyes  of  death  ! 

Why  haunt  me  thus,  awake  or  dreaming? 
Methought  I  left  ye  with  my  breath ! 

Ay,  glare  and  stare,  with  life  increasing, 
And  leech-like  eyebrows,  arching  in  ; 

Be,  if  ye  must,  my  fate  unceasing, 
But  never  hope  a  fear  to  win. 

He  who  knows  all  may  haunt  the  haunter, 
lie  who  fears  naught  hath  conquered  fate  ; 

Who  bears  in  silence  quells  the  daunter, 
And  makes  his  spoiler  desolate. 

0  wondrous  eyes,  of  star-like  lustre, 

Ho\v  have  ye  changed  to  guardian  love  ! 

Alas!  when-,  stars  in  myriads  cluster, 
Ye  vanish  in  the  heaven  above. 


I  hear  two  bells  so  softly  ringing; 

How  sweet  their  silver  voices  roll ! 
The  one  on  distant  hills  is  ringing, 

The  other  peals  within  my  soul. 

I  hear  two  maidens  gently  talking, 

Bohemian  maids,  and  fair  to  see: 
The  one  on  distant  hills  is  walking, 

The  other  maiden,  —  where  is  she  ? 

Where  is  she  ?     When  the  moonlight  glistens 

O'er  silent  lake,  or  inunnurin^  stream, 
I  hear  her  call  my  soul,  which  listens, 
"  Oh,  wake  no  more  !     Come,  lovo,  and  dream !  '* 


AUSTRIAN  GYPSIES.  87 

She  came  to  earth,  earth's  loveliest  creature; 

She  died,  and  then  was  born  once  more ; 
Changed  was  her  race,  and  changed  each  feature, 

But  yet  I  loved  her  as  before. 

We  live,  but  still,  when  night  has  bound  me 

In  golden  dreams  too  sweet  to  last, 
A  wondrous  light-blue  world  around  me, 

She  comes,  —  the  loved  one  of  the  past. 

I  know  not  which  I  love  the  dearest, 

For  both  the  loves  are  still  the  same  : 
The  living  to  my  life  is  nearest, 

The  dead  one  feeds  the  living  flame. 

And  when  the  sun,  its  rose-wine  quaffing, 

Which  flows  across  the  Eastern  deep, 
Awakes  us,  Klara  chides  me,  laughing, 

And  says  we  love  too  well  in  sleep. 

And  though  no  more  a  Voivode's  daughter, 

As  when  she  lived  on  earth  before, 
The  love  is  still  the  same  which  sought  her, 

And  I  am  true,  and  ask  no  more. 


Bright  moonbeams  on  the  sea  are  playing, 
And  starlight  shines  upon  the  hill, 

And  I  should  wake,  but  still  delaying 
In  our  old  life  I  linger  still. 

For  as  the  wind  clouds  flit  above  me, 
And  as  the  stars  above  them  shine, 

My  higher  life  Js  in  those  who  love  me, 
And  higher  still,  our  life  's  divine. 

And  thus  I  raise  my  soul  by  drinking, 

As  on  the  tavern  floor  I  lie  ; 
It  heeds  not  whence  begins  our  thinking 

If  to  the  end  its  flight  is  high. 

E'en  outcasts  may  have  heart  and  feeling, 
The  blackest  wild  Tsigan  be  true, 

And  love,  like  light  in  dungeons  stealing, 
Though  bars  be  there,  will  still  burst  through, 


88  AUSTRIAN  GYPSIES. 

It  is  the  reecho  of  more  than  one  song  of  those 
strange  lands,  of  more  than  one  voice,  and  of  many  a 
melody ;  and  those  who  have  heard  them,  though  not 
more  distinctly  than  Francois  Villon  when  he  spoke  of 
flinging  the  question  back  by  silent  lake  and  streamlet 
lone,  will  understand  me,  and  say  it  is  true  to  nature. 

In  a  late  work  on  Magyarland,  by  a  lady  Fellow 
of  the  Carpathian  Society,  I  find  more  on  Hungarian 
gypsy  music,  which  is  so  well  written  that  I  quote 
fully  from  it,  being  of  the  opinion  that  one  ought, 
when  setting  forth  any  subject,  to  give  quite  as  good 
an  opportunity  to  others  who  are  in  our  business  as 
to  ourselves.  And  truly  this  lady  has  felt  the  charm 
of  the  Tsigan  music  and  describes  it  so  well  that  one 
wishes  she  were  a  Romany  in  language  and  by  adop- 
tion, like  unto  a  dozen  dames  and  damsels  whom  I 
know. 

"  The  Magyars  have  a  perfect  passion  for  this 
gypsy  music,  and  there  is  nothing  that  appeals  so 
powerfully  to  their  emotions,  whether  of  joy  or  sor- 
row. These  singular  musicians  are,  as  a  rule,  well 
taught,  and  can  play  almost  any  music,  greatly  pre- 
ferring, however,  their  own  compositions.  Their  mu- 
sic, consequently,  is  highly  characteristic.  It  is  the 
language  of  their  lives  and  strange  surroundings,  a 
wild,  weird  banshee  music  :  now  all  joy  and  sparkle, 
like  sunshine  on  the  plains ;  now  sullen,  sad,  and  pa- 
thetic by  turns,  like  the  wail  of  a  crushed  and  op- 
pressed people,  —  an  echo,  it  is  said,  of  the  minstrelsy 
of  the  hegedosok  or  Hungarian  bards,  but  sounding 
to  our  ears  like  the  more  distant  echo  of  that  exceed- 
ing bitter  cry,  uttered  long  centuries  ago  by  their 
forefathers  under  Egyptian  bondage,  and  borne  over 
Che  time-waves  of  thousands  of  years,  breaking  forth 
in  their  music  of  to-day." 


AUSTRIAN  GYPSIES.  89 

Here  I  interrupt  the  lady  —  with  all  due  courtesy 
—  to  remark  that  I  cannot  agree  with  her,  nor  with 
her  probable  authority,  Walter  Simson,  in  believing 
that  the  gypsies  are  the  descendants  of  the  mixed 
races  who  followed  Moses  out  of  Egypt.  The  Rom  in 
Egypt  is  a  Hindoo  stranger  now,  as  he  ever  was.  But 
that  the  echo  of  centuries  of  outlawry  and  wretched- 
ness and  wildness  rises  and  falls,  like  the  ineffable 
discord  in  a  wind-harp,  in  Romany  airs  is  true  enough, 
whatever  its  origin  may  have  been.  But  I  beg  par- 
don, madam,  —  I  interrupted  you. 

"  The  soul-stirring,  madly  exciting,  and  martial 
strains  of  the  Racoczys  —  one  of  the  Revolutionary 
airs  —  has  just  died  upon  the  ear.  A  brief  interval 
of  rest  has  passed.  Now  listen  with  bated  breath  to 
that  recitative  in  the  minor  key,  —  that  passionate 
wail,  that  touching  story,  the  gypsies'  own  music, 
which  rises  and  falls  on  the  air.  Knives  and  forks 
are  set  down,  hands  and  arms  hang  listless,  all  the 
seeming  necessities  of  the  moment  being  either  sus- 
pended or  forgotten,  —  merged  in  the  memories  which 
those  vibrations,  so  akin  to  human  language,  reawaken 
in  each  heart.  Eyes  involuntarily  fill  with  tears,  as 
those  pathetic  strains  echo  back  and  make  present 
some  sorrow  of  long  ago,  or  rouse  from  slumber  that 
of  recent  time.  .  .  . 

"  And  now,  the  recitative  being  ended,  and  the  last 
chord  struck,  the  melody  begins,  of  which  the  former 
was  the  prelude.  Watch  the  movements  of  the  supple 
figure  of  the  first  violin,  standing  in  the  centre  of  the 
other  musicians,  who  accompany  him  softly.  How 
every  nerve  is  en  rapport  with  his  instrument,  and 
how  his  very  soul  is  speaking  through  it !  See  how 
gently  he  draws  the  bow  across  the  trembli  ng  strings, 


90  AUSTRIAN   GYPSIES. 

and  how  lovingly  he  lays  his  cheek  upon  it,  as  if  list- 
ening to  some  responsive  echo  of  his  heart's  inmost 
feeling,  for  it  is  his  mystic  language  !  How  the  in- 
strument lives  and  answers  to  his  every  touch,  send- 
ing forth  in  turn  utterances  tender,  sad,  wild,,  and 
joyous  !  The  audience  once  more  hold  their  breath 
to  catch  the  dying  tones,  as  the  melody,  so  rich,  so 
beautiful,  so  full  of  pathos,  is  drawing  to  a  close.  The 
tension  is  absolutely  painful  as  the  gypsy  dwells  on 
the  last  lingering  note,  and  it  is  a  relief  when,  with  a 
loud  and  general  burst  of  sound,  every  performer 
starts  into  life  and  motion.  Then  what  crude  and 
wild  dissonances  are  made  to  resolve  themselves  into 
delicious  harmony  !  What  rapturous  and  fervid 
pi i rases,  and  what  energy  and  impetuosity,  are  there 
in  every  motion  of  the  gypsies'  figures,  as  their  dark 
eyes  glisten  and  emit  flashes  in  unison  with  the 
tones  ! " 

The  writer  is  gifted  in  giving  words  to  gypsy  mu- 
sic. One  cannot  say,  as  the  inexhaustible  Cad  writes 
of  Niagara  ten  times  on  a  page  in  the  Visitors'  Book, 
that  it  is  indescribable.  I  think  that  if  language 
means  anything  this  music  has  been  very  well  de- 
scribed by  the  writers  whom  1  have  cited.  When  I 
am  told  that  the  gypsies'  impetuous  and  passionate 
natures  make  them  enter  into  musical  action  with 
heart  and  soul,  I  feel  not  only  the  strains  played  long 
but  also  hear  therein  the  horns  of  Elfland  blow- 
ing, —  which  he  who  has  not;  heard,  of  summer  days, 
in  the  drone  of  the  bee,  by  reedy  rustling  stream, 
will  never  know  on  earth  in  any  wise.  But  once 
heard  it  comes  ever,  as  I,  though  in  the  ci£y,  heard 
it  last  night  in  the  winter  wind,  with  Romany  words 
mingled  in  wild  refrain  :  — 

"  Kamava  lute,  miri  chelladi  I " 


II. 

AUSTRIAN  GYPSIES  IN  PHILADELI HIA. 

IT  was  a  sunny  Sunday  afternoon,  and  I  was  walk- 
ing down  Chestnut  Street,  Philadelphia,  when  I  met 
with  three  very  dark  men. 

Dark  men  are  not  rarities  in  my  native  city.  There 
is,  for  instance,  Eugene,  who  has  the  invaluable  fac- 
ulty of  being  able  to  turn  his  hand  to  an  infinite 
helpfulness  in  the  small  arts.  These  men  were 
darker  than  Eugene,  but  they  differed  from  him  in 
this,  that  while  he  is  a  man  of  color,  they  were  not. 
For  in  America  the  man  of  Aryan  blood,  however 
dark  he  may  be,  is  always  "  off  "  color,  while  the 
lightest-hued  quadroon  is  always  on  it.  Which  is 
not  the  only  paradox  connected  with  the  descendants 
of  Africans  of  which  I  have  heard. 

I  saw  at  a  glance  that  these  dark  men  were  much 
nearer  to  the  old  Aryan  stock  than  are  even  my 
purely  white  readers.  For  they  were  more  recently 
from  India,  and  they  could  speak  a  language  abound- 
ing in  Hindi,  in  pure  old  Sanskrit,  and  in  Persian. 
Yet  they  would  make  no  display  of  it ;  on  the  con- 
trary, I  knew  that  they  would  be  very  likely  at  first 
to  deny  all  knowledge  thereof,  as  well  as  their  race 
and  blood.  For  they  were  gypsies  ;  it  was  very 
apparent  in  their  eyes,  which  had  the  Gitano  gleam 
as  one  seldom  sees  it  in  England.  I  confess  that  I 
experienced  a  thrill  aa  I  exchanged  glances  with 


92  AUSTRIAN  GYPSIES. 

them.  It  was  a  long  time  since  I  had  seen  a  Rom 
any,  and,  as  usual,  I  knew  that  I  was  going  to  as- 
tonish them.  They  were  singularly  attired,  having 
very  good  clothes  of  a  quite  theatrical  foreign  fash- 
ion, bearing  silver  buttons  as  large  as  and  of  the 
shape  of  hen's  eggs.  Their  hair  hung  in  black  ring- 
lets down  their  shoulders,  and  I  saw  that  they  had 
come  from  the  Austrian  Slavonian  land. 

I  addressed  the  eldest  in  Italian.  He  answered 
fluently  and  politely.  I  changed  to  Ilirski  or  Illyr- 
ian  and  to  Serb,  of  which  I  have  a  few  phrases  in 
stock.  They  spoke  all  these  languages  fluently,  for 
one  was  a  born  Illyrian  and  one  a  Serb.  They  also 
spoke  Nemetz,  or  German ;  in  fact,  everything  ex- 
cept English. 

"  Have  you  got  through  all  your  languages  ?  "  I  ab 
last  inquired. 

"  Tutte,  signore,  —  all  of  them." 

"  Is  n't  there  one  left  behind,  which  you  have  for- 
gotten ?  Think  a  minute." 

"  No,  signore.     None." 

"  What,  not  one  !  You  know  so  many  that  per- 
haps a  language  more  or  less  makes  no  difference  to 
you." 

"  By  the  Lord,  signore,  you  have  seen  every  egg 
in  the  basket." 

I  looked  him  fixedly  in  the  eyes,  and  said,  in  a  low 
tone,  — 

"Ne  raJcesa  tu  Romanes  miro  prala  ?" 

There  was  a  startled  glance  from  one  to  the  other, 
vnd  a  silence.  I  had  asked  him  if  he  could  not  talk 
Romany.  And  I  added, — 

"  Won't  you  talk  a  word  with  a  gypsy  brother  ?  " 

That  moved  them.    They  all  shook  my  hands  with 


AUSTRIAN  GYPSIES  IN  PHILADELPHIA.      93 

great  feeling,  expressing  intense  joy  and  amazement 
at  meeting  with  one  who  knew  them. 

"  Mishto  horn  me  dikava  tute."  (I  am  glad  to  seo 
you.)  So  they  told  me  how  they  were  getting  on,  and 
where  they  were  camped,  and  how  they  sold  horses, 
and  so  on,  and  we  might  have  got  on  much  farther 
had  it  not  been  for  a  very  annoying  interruption.  As 
I  was  talking  to  the  gypsies,  a  great  number  of  men, 
attracted  by  the  sound  of  a  foreign  language,  stopped, 
and  fairly  pushed  themselves  up  to  us,  endeavoring 
to  make  it  all  out.  When  there  were  at  least  fifty, 
they  crowded  in  between  me  and  the  foreigners,  so 
that  I  could  hardly  talk  to  them.  The  crowd  did 
not  consist  of  ordinary  people,  or  snobs.  They  were 
well  dressed,  —  young  clerks,  at  least,  —  who  would 
have  fiercely  resented  being  told  that  they  were  im- 
pertinent. 

"  Eye-talians,  ain't  they  ?  "  inquired  one  man,  who 
was  evidently  zealous  in  pursuit  of  knowledge. 
"  Why  don't  you  tell  us  what  they  are  sayin'  ?  " 
"  What  kind  of  fellers  air  they,  any  way  ?  " 
I  was  desirous  of  going  with  the  Hungarian  Horns. 
But  to  walk  along  Chestnut  Street  with  an  augment- 
ing procession  of  fifty  curious  Sunday  promenaders 
was  not  on  my  card.  In  fact,  I  had  some  difficulty 
in  tearing  myself  from  the  inquisitive,  questioning, 
well-dressed  people.  The  gypsies  bore  the  pressure 
with  the  serene  equanimity  of  cosmopolite  superiority, 
smiling  at  provincial  rawness.  Even  so  in  China  and 
Africa  the  traveler  is  mobbed  by  the  many,  who, 
ihere  as  here,  think  that  "  I  want  to  know "  is  full 
excuse  for  all  intrusiveness.  C'est  tout  comme  chez 
nous.  I  confess  that  I  was  vexed,  and,  considering 
that  it  was  in  my  native  city,  mortified. 


94  AUSTRIAN  GYPSIES 

A  few  days  after  I  went  out  to  the  tan  where 
these  Roms  hud  camped.  But  the-birds  had  flown, 
and  a  little  pile  of  ashes  and  the  usual  debris  of  a 
gypsy  camp  were  all  that  remained.  The  police  told 
me  that  they  had  some  very  fine  horses,  and  had  gone 
to  the  Northwest ;  and  that  is  all  I  ever  saw  of  them. 

I  have  heard  of  a  philanthropist  who  was  turned 
into  a  misanthrope  by  attempting  to  sketch  in  public 
and  in  galleries.  Respectable  strangers,  even  clergy- 
men, would  stop  and  coolly  look  over  his  shoulder, 
and  ask  questions,  and  give  him  advice,  until  he  could 
work  no  longer.  Why  is  it  that  people  who  would 
not  speak  to  you  for  life  without  an  introduction 
should  think  that  their  small  curiosity  to  see  your 
sketches  authorizes  them  to  act  as  aquaintances  ? 
Or  why  is  the  pursuit  of  knowledge  assumed  among 
the  half-bred  to  be  an  excuse  for  so  much  intrusion  ? 
"I  want  to  know."  Well,  and  what  if  you  do?  The 
man  who  thinks  that  his  desire  for  knowledge  is  an 
excuse  for  impertinence  —  and  there  are  too  many  who 
act  on  this  in  all  sincerity — is  of  the  kind  who  knocks 
the  fingers  off  statues,  because  "  he  wants  them " 
for  his  collection ;  who  chips  away  tombstones,  and 
hews  down  historic  trees,  and  not  infrequently  steals 
outright,  and  thinks  that  his  pretense  of  culture  is 
full  excuse  for  all  his  mean  deeds.  Of  this  tribe  is 
the  man  who  cuts  his  name  on  all  walls  and  smears 
it  on  the  pyramids,  to  proclaim  himself  a  fool  to  the 
world;  the  difference  being  that,  instead  of  wanting 
to  know  anything,  he  wants  everybody  to  know  that 
His  Littleness  was  once  in  a  great  place. 

I  knew  a  distinguished  artist,  who,  while  in  the 
East,  only  secured  his  best  sketch  of  a  landscape  by 
employing  fifty  men  to  keep  off  the  multitude.  1 


AUSTRIAN  GYPSIES  IN  PHILADELPHIA.       95 

have  seen  a  strange  fellow  take  a  lady's  sketch  out 
of  her  hand,  excusing  himself  with  the  remark  that 
he  was  so  fond  of  pictures.  Of  course  my  readers 
do  not  act  thus.  When  they  are  passing  through  the 
Louvre  or  British  Museum  they  never  pause  and 
overlook  artists,  despite  the  notices  requesting  them 
not  to  do  so.  Of  course  not.  Yet  I  once  knew  a 
charming  young  American  lady,  who  scouted  the  idea 
as  nonsense  that  she  should  not  watch  artists  at 
work.  "  Why,  we  used  to  make  up  parties  for  the 
purpose  of  looking  at  them  !  "  she  said.  "  It  was  half 
the  fun  of  going  there.  I  'in  sure  the  artists  were 
delighted  to  get  a  chance  to  talk  to  us."  Doubtless. 
And  yet  there  are  really  very  few  artists  who  do 
not  work  more  at  their  ease  when  not  watched,  and 
I  have  known  some  to  whom  such  watching  was  mis- 
ery. They  are  not,  O  intruder,  painting  for  your 
amusement ! 

This  is  not  such  a  far  cry  from  my  Romanys  as 
it  may  seem.  When  I  think  of  what  I  have  lost  in 
this  life  by  impertinence  coming  between  me  and 
gypsies,  I  feel  that  it  could  not  be  avoided.  The 
proportion  of  men,  even  of  gentlemen,  or  of  those 
who  dress  decently,  who  cannot  see  another  well- 
dressed  man  talking  with  a  very  poor  one  in  public, 
without  at  once  surmising  a  mystery,  and  endeavor- 
ing to  solve  it,  is  amazing.  And  they  do  not  stop 
at  a  trifle,  either. 

It  is  a  marked  characteristic  of  all  gypsies  that 
they  are  quite  free  from  any  such  mean  intrusive- 
ness.  Whether  it  is  because  they  themselves  are 
continually  treated  as  curiosities,  or  because  great 
knowledge  of  life  in  a  small  way  has  made  them 
philosophers,  I  will  not  say,  but  it  is  a  fact  that  in 


96  AUSTRIAN  GYPSIES. 

this  respect  they  are  invariably  the  politest  people  in 
the  world.  Perhaps  their  calm  contempt  of  the  go- 
lerly,  or  green  Gorgios,  is  founded  on  a  consciousness 
of  their  superiority  in  this  matter. 

The  Hungarian  gypsy  differs  from  all  his  brethren 
of  Europe  in  being  more  intensely  gypsy.  He  has 
deeper,  wilder,  and  more  original  feeling  in  music, 
and  he  is  more  inspired  with  a  love  of  travel.  Num- 
bers of  Hungarian  Romany  chals  —  in  which  I  in- 
clude all  Austrian  gypsies  —  travel  annually  all  over 
Europe,  but  return  as  regularly  to  their  own  country. 
I  have  met  with  them  exhibiting  bears  in  Badeii- 
Baden.  These  Ricinari,  or  bear-leaders,  form,  how- 
ever, a  set  within  a  set,  and  are  in  fact  more  nearly 
allied  to  the  gypsy  bear-leaders  of  Turkey  and  Syria 
than  to  any  other  of  their  own  people.  They  are 
wild  and  rude  to  a  proverb,  and  generally  speak  a 
peculiar  dialect  of  Romany,  which  is  called  the  Bear- 
leaders' by  philologists.  I  have  also  seen  Syrian- 
gypsy  Ricinari  in  Cairo.  Many  of  the  better  caste 
make  a  great  deal  of  money,  and  some  are  rich.  Like 
all  really  pure-blooded  gypsies,  they  have  deep  feel- 
ings, which  are  easily  awakened  by  kindness,  but  es- 
pecially by  sympathy  and  interest. 


ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 


I. 


OATLANDS   PABK. 

OATLANDS  PARK  (between  Weybridge  and  Wal- 
ton-upon-Thames)  was  once  the  property  of  the  Duke 
of  York,  but  now  the  lordly  manor-house  is  a  hotel. 
The  grounds  about  it  are  well  preserved  and  very 
picturesque.  They  should  look  well,  for  they  cover 
a  vast  and  wasted  fortune.  There  is,  for  instance, 
a  grotto  which  cost  forty  thousand  pounds.  It  is 
one  of  those  wretched  and  tasteless  masses  of  silly 
rock-rococo  work  which  were  so  much  admired  at  the 
beginning  of  the  present  century,  when  sham  ruins 
and  sham  caverns  were  preferred  to  real.  There  is, 
also,  close  by  the  grotto,  a  dogs'  burial-ground,  in 
which  more  than  a  hundred  animals,  the  favorites  of 
the  late  duchess,  lie  buried.  Over  each  is  a  tomb- 
stone, inscribed  with  a  rhyming  epitaph,  written  by 
the  titled  lady  herself,  and  which  is  in  sober  sadness 
in  every  instance  doggerel,  as  befits  the  subject.  In 
order  to  degrade  the  associations  of  religion  and 
church  rites  as  effectually  as  possible,  there  is  at- 
tached to  these  graves  the  semblance  of  a  ruined 
chapel,  the  stained-glass  window  of  which  was  taken 
from  a  church.1  I  confess  that  I  could  never  see  either 

i  Within  a  mile,  Maginu  lies  buried,  without  a  monument. 


98  ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 

grotto  or  grave -yard  without  sincerely  wishing,  out  of 
regard  to  the  memory  of  both  duke  and  duchess,  that 
these  ridiculous  relics  of  vulgar  taste  and  affected 
sentimentalism  could  be  completely  obliterated.  But, 
apart  from  them,  the  scenes  around  are  very  beauti- 
ful ;  for  there  are  grassy  slopes  and  pleasant  lawns, 
ancient  trees  and  broad  gravel  walks,  over  which,  as 
the  dry  leaves  fall  on  the  crisp  sunny  morning,  the 
feet  are  tempted  to  walk  on  and  on,  all  through  the 
merry  golden  autumn  day. 

The  neighborhood  abounds  in  memories  of  olden 
time.  Near  Oatlands  is  a  modernized  house,  in  which 
Henry  the  Eighth  lived  in  his  youth.  It  belonged 
then  to  Cardinal  Wolsey;  now  it  is  owned  by  Mr. 
Lindsay,  —  a  sufficient  cause  for  wits  calling  it  Lind- 
say-Wolsey,  that  being  also  a  "  fabric."  Within  an 
hour's  walk  is  the  palace  built  by  Cardinal  Wolsey, 
while  over  the  river,  and  visible  from  the  portico,  is 
the  little  old  Gothic  church  of  Shepperton,  and  in  the 
same  view,  to  the  right,  is  the  old  Walton  Bridge, 
by  Cowie  Stages,  supposed  to  cover  Ihe  exact  spot 
where  Cresar  crossed.  This  has  been  denied  by  many, 
but  I  know  that  the  field  adjacent  to  it  abounds  in  an- 
cient British  jars  filled  with  burned  bones,  the  relics 
of  an  ancient  battle,  — probably  that  which  legend 
States  was  fought  on  the  neighboring  Rattle  Island. 
Stout-hearted  Queen  Bessy  has  also  left  her  mark  on 
this  neighborhood,  for  within  a,  mile  is  the  old  Saxon- 
towered  church  of  Walton,  in  which  the  royal  dame 
was  asked  for  her  opinion  of  the  sacrament  when  it 
Was  given  to  her,  to  which  she  replied  :  — 

"Christ  \v;i*  tin;  Word  \v]io  spake  it, 
H<;  took  tlio  broad  mid  hrnkf  it; 
And  what  that  Word  did  in;ike  it, 
That  I  believe,  and  take  it." 


OATLANDS  PARK.  99 

In  memory  of  this  the  lines  were  inscribed  on  the 
massy  Norman  pillar  by  which  she  stood.  From  the 
style  and  cutting  it  is  evident  that  the  inscription 
dates  from  the  reign  of  Elizabeth.  And  very  near 
Oatlands,  in  fact  on  the  grounds,  there  are  two  an- 
cient yew-trees,  several  hundred  yards  apart.  The 
story  runs  that  Queen  Elizabeth  once  drew  a  long 
bow  and  shot  an  arrow  so  far  that,  to  commemo- 
rate the  deed,  one  of  these  trees  was  planted  where 
she  stood,  and  the  other  where  the  shaft  fell.  All 
England  is  a  museum  of  touching  or  quaint  relics  ;  to 
me  one  of  its  most  interesting  cabinets  is  this  of 
the  neighborhood  of  Weybridge  and  Walton-upou- 
Thames. 

I  once  lived  for  eight  months  at  Oatlands  Park, 
and  learned  to  know  the  neighborhood  well.  I  had 
many  friends  among  the  families  in  the  vicinity,  and, 
guided  by  their  advice,  wandered  to  every  old  church 
and  manor-house,  ruin  and  haunted  rock,  fairy-oak, 
tower,  palace,  or  shrine  within  a  day's  ramble.  But 
there  was  one  afternoon  walk  of  four  miles,  round  by 
the  river,  which  I  seldom  missed.  It  led  by  a  spot 
on  the  bank,  and  an  old  willow-tree  near  the  bridge, 
which  spot  was  greatly  haunted  by  the  Romany,  so 
that,  excepting  during  the  hopping-season  of  autumn, 
when  they  were  away  in  Kent,  I  seldom  failed  to  see 
from  afar  a  light  rising  smoke,  and  near  it  a  tent  and 
a  van,  as  the  evening  shadows  blended  with  the  mist 
from  the  river  in  phantom  union. 

It  is  a  common  part  of  gypsy  life  that  the  father 
shall  be  away  all  day,  lounging  about  the  next  vil- 
lage, possibly  in  the  Mtchema  or  ale-house,  or  try- 
ing to  trade  a  horse,  while  the  wife  trudges  over  the 
country,  from  one  farm-house  or  cottage  to  another, 


100  ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 

loaded  with  baskets,  household  utensils,  toys,  or  cheap 
ornaments,  which  she  endeavors,  like  a  true  Autolyca, 
with  wily  arts  and  wheedling  tones,  to  sell  to  the  rus- 
tics. When  it  can  be  managed,  this  hawking  is  often 
an  introduction  to  fortune-telling,  and  if  these  fail  the 
gypsy  has  recourse  to  begging.  But  it  is  a  weary  life, 
and  the  poor  dye  is  always  glad  enough  to  get  home. 
During  the  day  the  children  have  been  left  to  look 
out  for  themselves  or  to  the  care  of  the  eldest,  and 
have  tumbled  about  the  van,  rolled  around  with  the 
dog,  and  fought  or  frolicked  as  they  chose.  But 
though  their  parents  often  have  a  stock  of  cheap  toys, 
especially  of  penny  dolls  and  the  like,  which  they 
put  up  as  prizes  for  games  at  races  and  fairs,  I  have 
never  seen  these  children  with  playthings.  The  lit- 
tle girls  have  no  dolls ;  the  boys,  indeed,  affect  whips, 
as  becomes  incipient  jockeys,  but  on  the  whole  they 
never  seemed  to  me  to  have  the  same  ideas  as  to  play 
as  ordinary  house-children.  The  author  of  "  My  In- 
dian Garden  "  has  made  the  same  observation  of  Hin- 
doo little  ones,  whose  ways  are  not  as  our  ways  were 
when  we  were  young.  Roman  and  Egyptian  children 
had  their  dolls ;  and  there  is  something  sadly  sweef 
to  me  in  the  sight  of  these  barbarous  and  naive  fac- 
similes of  miniature  humanity,  which  come  up  like 
little  spectres  out  of  the  dust  of  ancient  days.  They 
%re  so  rude  and  queer,  these  Roman  puppets;  and  yet 
they  were  loved  once,  and  had  pet  names,  and  their 
owl-like  faces  were  as  tenderly  kissed  as  their  little 
mistresses  had  been  by  their  mothers.  So  the  Romany 
girl,  unlike  the  Roman,  is  generally  doll-less  and  toy- 
less.  But  the  affection  between  mother  and  child  is 
as  warm  among  these  wanderers  as  with  .any  other 
people  ;  and  it  is  a  touching  sight  to  see  the  gypsy  wha 


OATLANDS  PARK.  101 

has  been  absent  all  the  weary  day  returning  home. 
And  when  she  is  seen  from  afar  off  there  is  a  race 
among  all  the  little  'dark-brown  things  to  run  to 
mother  and  get  kissed,  and  cluster  and  scramble 
around  her,  and  perhaps  receive  some  little  gift  which 
mother's  thoughtful  love  has  provided.  Knowing 
these  customs,  I  was  wont  to  fill  my  pockets  with 
chestnuts  or  oranges,  and,  distributing  them  among 
the  little'  ones,  talk  with  them,  and  await  the  sunset 
return  of  their  parents.  The*  confidence  or  love  of 
all  children  is  delightful ;  but  that  of  gypsy  children 
resembles  the  friendship  of  young  foxes,  arid  the 
study  of  their  artless-artful  ways  is  indeed  attractive. 

I  can  remember  that  one  afternoon  six' small  Rom- 
any boys  implored  me  to  give  them  each  a  penny. 
I  replied,  — 

"  If  I  had  sixpence,  how  would  you  divide  it  ?  " 

"  That  would  be  a  penny  apiece,"  said  the  eldest 
boy. 

"  And  if  threepence  ?  " 

"A  ha'penny  apiece." 

"  And  three  ha'pence  ?  " 

"  A  farden  all  round.  And  then  it  could  n't  go  no 
furder,  unless  we  bought  tobacco  an'  diwided  it." 

"  Well,  I  have  some  tobacco.  But  can  any  of  you 
smoke  ?  " 

They  were  from  four  to  ten  years  of  age,  and  at 
he  word  every  one  pulled  out  the  stump  of  a  black- 
ened pipe,  —  such  depraved-looking  fragments  I  never 
saw,  —  and  holding  them  all  up,  and  crowding  closely 
around,  like  hungry  poultry  with  uplifted  bills,  they 
began  to  clamor  for  tilvalo,  or  tobacco.  They  were 
connoisseurs,  too,  and  the  elder  boy.  as  he  secured 
his  share,  smelled  it  with  intense  satisfaction,  and 


102  ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 

said,  "That  's  rye's  tuvalo ;"  that  is,  "gentleman's 
tobacco,"  or  best  quality. 

One  evening,  as  the  shadows  were  darkening  the 
day,  T  met  a  little  gypsy  boy,  dragging  along,  with 
incredible  labor,  a  sack  full  of  wood,  which  one  needed 
not  go  far  afield  to  surmise  was  neither  purchased 
nor  begged.  The  alarmed  and  guilty  or  despairing 
look  which  he  cast  at  me  was  very  touching.  Perhaps 
he  thought  I  was  the  gentleman  upon  whose  prop- 
erty he  had  "found"  the  wood  ;  or  else  a  magistrate. 
How  he  stared  when  I  spoke  to  him  in  Romany,  and 
offered  to  help  him  carry  it !  As  we  bore  it  along  I 
suggested  that  we  had  better  be  careful  and  avoid  the 
police,  which  remark  established  perfect  confidence 
between  us.  But  as  we  came  to  the  tent,  what  was 
the  amazement  of  the  boy's  mother  to  see  him  re- 
turning with  a  gentleman  helping  him  to  carry  his 
load  !  And  to  hear  me  say  in  Romany,  and  in  a 
cheerful  tone,  "  Mother,  here  is  some  wood  we  've 
been  stealing  for  you." 

Gypsies  have  strong  nerves  and  much  cheek,  but 
this  was  beyond  her  endowment ;  she  was  appalled 
at  the  unearthly  strangeness  of  the  whole  proceeding, 
and  when  she  spoke  there  was  a  skeleton  rattle  in 
her  words  and  a  quaver  of  startled  ghastliness  in  her 
laugh.  She  had  been  alarnuxl  for  her  boy,  and  when 
I  appeared  she  thought  I  was  a  swell  bringing  him 
in  under  arrest;  but  when  I  announced  myself  in 
Romany  as  an  accomplice,  emotion  stifled  thought. 
And  I  lingered  not,  and  spoke  no  more,  but  walked 
away  into  the  woods  and  the  darkness.  However,  the 
legend  went  forth  on  the  roads,  even  unto  Kingston, 
and  was  told  among  the  rollicking  Romanys  of  'Appy 
Anipton  ;  for  there  are  always  a  merry,  loafing  lot 


OATLANDS  PARK.  103 

of  them  about  that  festive  spot,  looking  out  for  excur- 
sionists through  the  months  when  the  gorse  blooms, 
and  kissing  is  in  season  —  which  is  always.  And  lie 
who  seeks  them  on  Sunday  may  find  them  camped  in 
Green  Lane. 

When  I  wished  for  a  long  ramble  on  the  hedge- 
lined  roads  —  the  sweet  roads  of  old  England  —  and 
by  the  green  fields,  I  was  wont  to  take  a  day's  walk 
to  Netley  Abbey.  Then  I  could  pause,  as  I  went, 
before  many  a  quiet,  sheltered  spot,  adorned  with 
arbors  and  green  alleys,  and  protected  by  trees  and 
hawthorn  hedges,  and  again  surrender  my  soul,  while 
walking,  to  tender  and  vague  reveries,  in  which  all 
definite  thoughts  swim  overpowered,  yet  happy,  in 
a  sea  of  voluptuous  emotions  inspired  by  clouds  lost 
in  the  blue  sea  of  heaven  and  valleys  visioned  away 
into  the  purple  sky.  What  opium  is  to  one,  what 
hasheesh  may  be  to  another,  what  kheyf  or  mere  re- 
pose concentrated  into  actuality  is  to  the  Arab,  that 
is  Nature  to  him  who  has  followed  her  for  long  years 
through  poets  and  mystics  and  in  works  of  art,  until 
at  last  he  pierces  through  dreams  and  pictures  to 
reality. 

The  ruins  of  Netley  Abbey,  nine  or  ten  miles  from 
Oatlands  Park,  are  picturesque  and  lonely,  and  well 
fitted  for  the  dream-artist  in  shadows  among  sun- 
hine.  The  priory  was  called  Newstead  or  De  Novo 
Loco  in  Norman  times,  when  it  was  founded  by 
Ruald  de  Calva,  in  the  clay  of  Richard  Cceur  de . 
Lion.  The  ruins  rise  gray,  white,  and  undressed 
with  ivy,  that  they  may  contrast  the  more  vividly 
with  the  deep  emerald  of  the  meadows  around.  "  The 
.unrounding  scenery  is  composed  of  rivers  and  rivu- 
lets," —  for  seven  streams  run  by  it,  according  to  Au- 


104  ENGLISH   GYPSIES. 

brey,  —  "  of  foot-bridge  and  fords,  plashy  pools  and 
fringed,  tangled  hollows,  trees  in  groups  or  alone,  and 
cattle  dotted  over  the  pastures : "  an  English  Cuyp 
from  many  points  of  view,  beautiful  and  English- 
home-like  from  all.  Very  near  it  is  the  quaint,  out- 
of-the-way,  darling  little  old  church  of  Pirford,  up  a 
hill,  nestling  among  trees,  a  half-Norman,  decorated 
beauty,  out  of  the  age,  but  altogether  in  the  heart. 
As  I  came  near,  of  a  summer  afternoon,  the  waving  of 
leaves  and  the  buzzing  of  bees  without,  and  the  hum 
of  the  voices  of  children  at  school  within  the  adjoin- 
ing building,  the  cool  shade  and  the  beautiful  view  of 
the  ruined  Abbey  beyond,  made  an  impression  which 
I  can  never  forget.  Among  such  scenes  one  learns 
why  the  English  love  so  heartily  their  rural  life, 
and  why  every  object  peculiar  to  it  has  brought  forth 
a  picture  or  a  poem.  I  can  imagine  how  many  a 
man,  who  has  never  known  what  poetry  was  at  home, 
has  wept  with  yearning  inexpressible,  when  sitting 
among  burning  sands  and  under  the  palms  of  the 
East,  for  such  scenes  as  these. 

But  Netley  Abbey  is  close  by  the  river  Wey,  and 
the  sight  of  that  river  and  the  thought  of  the  story 
of  the  monks  of  the  olden  time  who  dwelt  in  the 
Abbey  drive  away  sentiment  as  suddenly  as  a  north 
wind  scatters  sea-fogs.  For  the  legend  is  a  merry 
one,  and  the  reader  may  have  heard  it  ;  but  if  he  has 
not  I  will  give  it  in  one  of  the  merriest  ballads  ever 
written.  By  whom  I  know  not,  —  doubtless  many 
know.  I  sing,  while  walking,  songs  of  olden  time. 


OATLANDS  PARK.  105 


THE  MONKS  OF  THE  WEY. 

1  TRUE  AND  IMPORTANT  RELATION  OF  THE  WONDERFUL  TUW- 
NELL  OF  NEWARKE  AI5HKY  AND  OF  THE  UNTIMELY  ENDE  O» 
8KVKHALL  OF  YE  GHOSTLY  BRETHREN. 

The  monks  of  the  Wey  seldom  sung  any  psalms, 
And  little  they  thought  of  religion  or  qualms  ; 
Such  rollicking,  frolicking,  ranting,  and  gay, 
And  jolly  old  boys  were  the  monks  of  the  Wey. 

To  the  sweet  nuns  of  Ockhara  devoting  their  cares, 
They  had  little  time  for  their  beads  and  their  prayers  ; 
For  the  love  of  these  maidens  they  sighed  night  and  day, 
And  neglected  devotion,  these  monks  of  the  Wey. 

And  happy  i'  faith  might  these  brothers  have  been 
If  the  river  had  never  been  rolling  between 
The  abbey  so  grand  and  the  convent  so  gray, 
That  stood  on  the  opposite  side  of  the  Wey. 

For  daily  they  sighed,  and  then  nightly  they  pined, 
But  little  to  anchorite  precepts  inclined, 
So  smitten  with  beauty's  enchantments  were  they, 
These  rollicking,  frolicking  monks  of  the  Wey. 

But  scandal  was  rife  in  the  country  near, 
They  dared  not  row  over  the  river  for  fear  ; 
And  no  more  could  they  swim  it,  so  fat  were  they, 
These  oily  and  amorous  monks  of  the  Wey. 

Loudly  they  groaned  for  their  fate  so  hard, 
From  the  love  of  these  beautiful  maidens  debarred, 
Till  a  brother  just  hit  on  a  plan  which  would  stay 
The  woe  of  these  heart-broken  monks  of  the  Wey. 

0  Nothing,"  quoth  he,  "  should  true  love  sunder ; 
Since  we  cannot  go  over,  then  let  us  go  under ! 
Boats  and  bridges  shall  yield  to  clay, 
We  '11  dig  a  long  tunnel  clean  under  the  Wey." 

So  to  it  they  went  with  right  good  will, 
With  spade  nnd  shovel  and  pike  and  bill; 


106  ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 

And  from  evening's  close  till  the  dawn  of  day 
They  worked  like  miners  all  under  the  Wey. 

And  at  vesper  hour,  as  their  work  begun, 
Kach  sung  of  the  charms  of  his  favorite  nun  ; 
"  How  surprised  they  will  bo,  and  how  h;ipj>y  !  "  said  they, 
"  When  we  pop  in  upon  them  from  under  the  Wey ! '" 

And  for  months  they  kept  grubbing  and  making  no  sound 
Like  other  black  moles,  darkly  under  the  ground ; 
And  no  one  suspected  such  going  astray, 
So  sly  were  these  mischievous  monks  of  the  Wey. 

At  last  their  fine  work  was  brought  near  to  a  close 
And  early  one  morn  from  their  pallets  they  rose, 
And  met  in  their  tunnel  with  lights  to  survey 
If  they  'd  scooped  a  free  passage  right  under  the  Wey. 

But  alas  for  their  fate!     As  they  smirked  and  they  smiled. 

To  think  how  completely  the  world  was  beguiled, 

The  river  broke  in,  and  it  grieves  me  to  say 

It  drowned  all  the  frolicksome  monks  of  the  Wey. 


O  churchmen  beware  of  the  lures  of  the  flesh, 
The  net  of  the  devil  has  many  a  mesh  ! 
And  remember  whenever  you  're  tempted  to  stray, 
The  fate  that  befell  the  poor  monks  of  the  Wey. 

It  was  all  long  ago,  and  now  there  are  neither 
monks  nor  nuns  ;  the  convent  has  been  converted, 
little  by  little,  age  by  age,  into  cottages,  even  as  the 
friars  and  nuns  themselves  may  have  been  organically 
changed  possibly  into  violets,  but  more  probably  into 
the  festive  sparrows  which  flit  and  hop  and  flirt  about 
the  ruins  with  abrupt  startles,  like  pheasants  sudden 
bursting  on  the  wing.  There  is  a  pretty  little  Latin 
epigram,  written  by  a  gay  monk,  of  a  pretty  little 
lady,  who,  being  very  amorous,  and  observing  that 
sparrows  were  like  her  as  to  love,  hoped  that  sne 
might  be  turned  into  one  after  death ;  and  it  is  not 


OAT  LANDS  PARK.  107 

difficult  for  a  dreamer  in  an  old  abbey,  of  a  golden 
day  to  fancy  that  those  merry,  saucy  birdies,  who 
dart  and  dip  in  and  out  of  the  sunshine  or  shadow, 
chirping  their  shameless  ditties  pro  et  con,  were  once 
the  human  dwellers  in  the  spot,  who  sang  their  gau- 
drioles  to  pleasant  strains. 

I  became  familiar  with  many  such  scenes  for  many 
miles  about  Oatlands,  not  merely  during  solitary 
walks,  but  by  availing  myself  of  the  kind  invitations 
of  many  friends,  and  by  hunting  afoot  with  the  bea- 
gles. In  this  fashion  one  has  hare  and  hound,  but 
no  horse.  It  is  not  needed,  for  while  going  over  crisp 
stubble  and  velvet  turf,  climbing  fences  and  jump- 
ing ditches,  a  man  has  a  keen  sense  of  being  his  own 
horse,  and  when  he  accomplishes  a  good  leap  of  being 
intrinsically  well  worth  £200.  And  indeed,  so  long 
as  anybody  can  walk  day  in  and  out  a  greater  dis- 
tance than  would  tire  a  horse,  he  may  well  believe 
he  is  really  worth  one.  It  may  be  a  good  thing  for 
us  to  reflect  on  the  fact  that  if  slavery  prevailed  at 
the  present  day  as  it  did  among  the  polished  Greeks 
the  average  price  of  young  gentlemen,  and  even  of 
young  ladies,  would  not  be  more  than  what  is  paid 
for  a  good  hunter.  Divested  of  diamonds  and  of 
Worth's  dresses,  what  would  a  girl  of  average  charms 
be  worth  to  a  stranger  ?  Let  us  reflect ! 

It  was  an  October  morning,  and,  pausing  after  a 
tun,  I  let  the  pack  and  the  "course-men  "  sweep 
•away,  while  I  sat  in  a  pleasant  spot  to  enjoy  the  air 
and  scenery.  The  solemn  grandeur  of  groves  and 
the  quiet  dignity  of  woodland  glades,  barred  with 
rays  of  solid-seeming  sunshine,  such  as  the  saint  of 
old  hung  his  cloak  on,  the  brook  into  which  the  over- 
hanging chestnuts  drop,  as  if  in  sport,  their  creamy 


108  ENGLISH   GYPSIES. 

golden  little  boats  of  leaves,  never  seem  so  beautiful 
or  impressive  as  immediately  after  a  rush  and  cry  of 
many  men,  succeeded  by  solitude  and  silence.  Little 
by  little  the  bay  of  the  hounds,  the  shouts  of  the 
hunters,  and  the  occasional  sound  of  the  horn  grew 
fainter ;  the  birds  once  more  appeared,  and  sent  forth 
short  calls  to  their  timid  friends.  I  began  again 
to  notice  who  my  neighbors  were,  as  to  daisies  and 
heather  which  resided  around  the  stone  on  which  I 
sat,  and  the  exclusive  circle  of  a  fairy-ring  at  a  little 
distance,  which,  like  many  exclusive  circles,  consisted 
entirely  of  mushrooms. 

As  the  beagle-sound  died  away,  and  while  the  hounds 
were  "  working  around  "  to  the  road,  I  heard  footsteps 
approaching,  and  looking  up  saw  before  me  a  gypsy 
woman  and  a  boy.  She  was  a  very  gypsy  woman, 
an  ideal  witch,  nut-brown,  tangle-haired,  aquiline  of 
nose,  and  fierce-eyed  ;  and  fiercely  did  she  beg !  As 
amid  broken  Gothic  ruins,  overhung  with  unkempt 
ivy,  one  can  trace  a  vanished  and  strange  beauty,  so 
in  this  worn  face  of  the  Romany,  mantled  by  neglected 
tresses,  I  could  see  the  remains  of  what  must  have 
been  once  a  wonderful  though  wild  loveliness.  As  I 
looked  into  those  serpent  eyes,  trained  for  a  long  life 
to  fascinate  in  fortune-telling  simple  dove-girls,  I 
could  readily  understand  the  implicit  faith  with  which 
many  writers  in  the  olden  time  spoke  of  the  "fasci- 
nation" peculiar  to  female  glances.  "  The  multipli- 
cation of  women,"  said  the  rabbis,  "  is  the  increase 
of  witches,"  for  the  belles  in  Israel  were  killing  girls, 
with  arrows,  the  bows  whereof  are  formed  by  pairs  of 
jet-black  eyebrows  joined  in  one.  And  thus  it  was 
that  these  black-eyed  beauties,  by  mashing  1  men  for 

1  Mashing,  a  word  of  gypsy  origin  (mashdva),  meaning  fascination 
Dy  the  eye,  or  taking  in. 


OATLANDS  PARK.  109 

many  generations,  with  shafts  shot  sideways  and 
most  wantonly,  at  last  sealed  their  souls  into  the  cor- 
ner of  their  eyes,  as  you  have  heard  before.  Cotton 
Mather  tells  us  that  these  witches  with  peaked  eye- 
corners  could  never  weep  but  three  tears  out  of  their 
long-tailed  eyes.  And  I  have  observed  that  such 
tears,  as  they  sweep  down  the  cheeks  of  the  brunette 
witches,  are  also  long-tailed,  and  recall  by  their  shape 
and  glitter  the  eyes  from  which  they  fell,  even  as 
the  daughter  recalls  the  mother.  For  all  love's  witch- 
craft lurks  in  flashing  eyes,  —  Ionian  del  oocJiio  Ionian 
daV  cuor. 

It  is  a  great  pity  that  the  pigeon-eye-peaks,  so 
pretty  in  young  witches,  become  in  the  old  ones 
crow's-feet  and  crafty.  When  I  greeted  the  woman, 
she  answered  in  Roman}'-,  and  said  she  was  a  Stan- 
ley from  the  North.  She  lied  bravely,  and  I  told  her 
so.  It  made  no  difference  in  any  way,  nor  was  she 
hurt.  The  brown  boy,  who  seemed  like  a  goblin, 
umber-colored  fungus,  growing  by  a  snaky  black  wild 
vine,  sat  by  her  and  stared  at  me.  I  was  pleased, 
when  he  said  tober,  that  she  corrected  him,  exclaim- 
ing earnestly,  "  Never  say  tober  for  road;  that  is  cant- 
ing. Always  say  drom ;  that  is  good  Romanes." 
There  is  always  a  way  of  bringing  up  a  child  in  the 
way  he  should  go,  —  though  it  be  a  gypsy  one,  —  and 
drom  comes  from  the  Greek  dromos,  which  is  elegant 
and  classical.  Then  she  began  to  beg  again,  to  pass 
the  time,  and  I  lectured  her  severely  on  the  sin  and 
meanness  of  her  conduct,  and  said,  with  bitterness, 
"  Do  dogs  eat  dogs,  or  are  all  the  Gorgios  dead  in 
the  land,  that  you  cry  for  money  to  me  ?  Oh,  you 
are  a  fine  Stanley  !  a  nice  Heshaley  you,  to  sing 
tnumpin  and  mongerin,  when  a  half-blood  Matthews 


110  ENGLISH   GYPSIES. 

has  too  much  decency  to  trouble  the  rye  !  Ami  how 
much  will  you  take?  Whatever  the  gentleman 
pleases,  and  thank  you,  my  kind  sir,  and  the  bless- 
ings of  the  poor  gypsy  woman  on  yom  Yes,  I  know 
that,  yivellii  you  mother  of  all  the  liars.  You  expect 
a  sixpence,  and  here  it  is,  and  may  you  get  drunk  on 
the  money,  and  be  well  thrashed  by  your  man  for 
it.  And  now  see  what  I  had  in  my  hand  all  the  time 
to  give  you.  A  lucky  half  crown,  my  deary;  but 
that 's  not  for  you  now.  I  only  give  a  sixpence  to 
a  beggar,  but  I  stand  a  pash-korauna  to  any  Romany 
who  's  a  pal  and  amal." 

This  pleasing  discourse  made  us  very  good  friends, 
and,  as  I  kept  my  eyes  sharply  fixed  on  her  viper 
orbs  with  an  air  of  intense  suspicion,  everything  like 
ill-feeling  or  distrust  naturally  vanished  from  her 
mind ;  for  it  is  of  the  nature  of  the  Romany  s  and  all 
their  kind  to  like  those  whom  they  respect,  and  re- 
spect those  whom  they  cannot  deceive,  and  to  meas- 
ure mankind  exactly  by  their  capacity  of  being  taken 
in,  (^specially  by  themselves.  As  is  also  the-  case,  in 
good  society,  with  many  ladies  and  some  gentlemen, 
—  and  much  good  may  it  do  them  ! 

There  was  a  brief  silence,  during  which  the  boy 
Btill  looked  wistfully  into  my  face,  as  if  wondering 
what  kind  of  gentleman  I  might  be,  until  his  mother 
said,  — 

"  How  do  you  do  with  them  ryas  [swells]  ?  What 
do  you  tell  'em  —  about  —  what  do  they  think  — 
you  know  ?  " 

This  was  not  explicit,  but  I  understood  it  perfectly. 
There,  is  a  great  deal  of  such  loose,  disjointed  con- 
versation among  gypsies  and  other  half -thinkers.  An 
educated  man  requires,  or  pretends  to  himself  to  re- 


OATLANDS  PARK.  Ill 

quire,  a  most  accurately-detailed  and  form-polished 
statement  of  anything  to  understand  it.  The  gypsy 
is  less  exacting.  I  have  observed  among  rural 
Americans  much  of  this  lottery  style  of  conversation, 
in  which  one  man  invests  in  a  dubious  question,  not 
knowing  exactly  what  sort  of  a  prize  or  blank  answer 
he  may  draw.  What  the  gypsy  meant  effectively 
was,  "  How  do  you  account  to  the  Gorgios  for  know- 
ing so  much  about  us,  and  talking  with  us?  Our  life 
is  as  different  from  yours  as  possible,  and  you  never 
acquired  such  a  knowledge  of  all  our  tricky  ways  as 
you  have  just  shown  without  much  experience  of  us 
and  a  double  life.  You  are  related  to  us  in  some 
way,  and  you  deceive  the  Gorgios  about  it.  What 
is  your  little  game  of  life,  on  general  principles  ?  " 

For  the  gypsy  is  so  little  accustomed  to  having  any 
congenial  interest  taken  in  him  that  he  can  clearly 
explain  it  only  by  consanguinity.  And  as  I  was 
questioned,  so  I  answered,  — 

"  Well,  I  tell  them  I  like  to  learn  languages,  and 
am  trying  to  learn  yours ;  and  then  I  'm  a  foreigner 
in  the  country,  anyhow,  and  they  don't  know  my 
droms  [ways],  and  they  don't  care  much  what  I  do, 
—  don't  you  see  ?  " 

This  was  perfectly  satisfactory,  and  as  the  hounds 
came  sweeping  round  the  corner  of  the  wood  she  rose 
and  went  her  way,  and  I  saw  her  growing  less  and 
less  along  the  winding  road  and  up  the  hill,  till  she 
disappeared,  with  her  boy,  in  a  small  ale-house. 
"  Bang  went  the  sixpence." 

When  the  last  red  light  was  in  the  west  I  went 
down  to  the  river,  and  as  I  paused,  and  looked  alter- 
nately at  the  stars  reflected  and  flickering  in  the 
water  and  at  the  lights  in  the  little  gypsy  camp, 


112  ENGLISH   GYPSIES. 

I  thought  that  as  the  dancing,  restless,  and  broken 
sparkles  were  to  their  serene  types  above,  such  were 
the  wandering  and  wild  Romany  to  the  men  of  cult- 
ure in  their  settled  homes.  It  is  from  the  house- 
dweller  that  the  men  of  the  roads  and  commons 
draw  the  elements  of  their  life,  but  in  that  life  they 
are  as  shaken  and  confused  as  the  starlight  in  the 
rippling  river.  But  if  we  look  through  our  own  life 
we  find  that  it  is  not  the  gypsy  alone  who  is  merely 
a  reflection  and  an  imitation  of  the  stars  above  him, 
and  a  creature  of  second-hand  fashion. 

I  found  in  the  camp  an  old  acquaintance,  named 
Brown,  and  also  perceived  at  the  first  greeting  that 
the  \voman  Stanley  had  told  Mrs.  Brown  that  I  would 
not  be  mongerdo,  or  begged  from,  and  that  the  latter, 
proud  of  her  power  in  extortion,  and  as  yet  invinci- 
ble in  mendicancy,  had  boasted  that  she  would  suc- 
ceed, let  others  weakly  fail.  And  to  lose  no  time 
she  went  at  me  with  an  abruptness  and  dramatic 
earnestness  which  promptly  betrayed  the  secret.  And 
on  the  spot  I  made  a  vow  that  nothing  should  get  a 
farthing  from  me,  though  I  should  be  drawn  by  wild 
horses.  And  a  horse  was,  indeed,  brought  into  requi- 
sition to  draw  me,  or  my  money,  but  without  suc- 
cess ;  for  Mr.  Brown,  as  I  very  well  knew,  —  it  being 
just  then  the  current  topic  in  the  best  society  on 
the  road,  —  had  very  recently  been  involved  in  a  tan- 
gled trouble  with  a  stolen  horse.  This  horse  had 
been  figuratively  laid  at  his  door,  even  as  a  "  love- 
babe  "  is  sometimes  placed  on  the  front  steps  of  a 
virtuous  and  grave  citizen,  —  at  least,  this  is  what 
White  George  averred,  —  and  his  very  innocence 
and  purity  had,  like  a  shining  mark,  attracted  the 
shafts  of  the  wicked.  He  had  come  out  unscathed, 


OATLANDS  PARK.  113 

with  a  package  of  papers  from  a  lawyer,  which  es-- 
tablished  his  character  above  par ;  but  all  this  had 
cost  money,  beautiful  golden  money,  and  brought 
him  to  the  very  brink  of  ruin !  Mrs.  Brown's  attack 
was  a  desperate  and  determined  effort,  and  there  was 
more  at  stake  on  its  success  than  the  reader  may  sur- 
mise. Among  gypsy  women  skill  in  begging  im- 
plies the  possession  of  every  talent  which  they  most 
esteem,  such  as  artfulness,  cool  effrontery,  and  the 
power  of  moving  pity  or  provoking  generosity  by 
pique  or  humor.  A  quaint  and  racy  book  might  be 
written,  should  it  only  set  forth  the  manner  in  which 
the  experienced  matrons  give  straight-tips  or  sug- 
gestions to  the  maidens  as  to  the  manner  and  lore  of 
begging  ;  and  it  is  something  worth  hearing  when 
several  sit  together  and  devise  dodges,  and  tell  anec- 
dotes illustrating  the  noble  art  of  mendicity,  and  how 
it  should  be  properly  practiced. 

Mrs.  Brown  knew  that  to  extort  alms  from  me 
would  place  her  on  the  pinnacle  as  an  artist. 
Among  all  the  Cooper  clan,  to  which  she  was  allied, 
there  was  not  one  who  ever  begged  from  me,  they 
having  all  found  that  the  ripest  nuts  are  those  which 
fall  from  the  tree  of  their  own  accord,  or  are  blown 
earthward  by  the  soft  breezes  of  benevolence,  and 
not  those  which  are  violently  beaten  down.  She 
began  by  pitiful  appeals  ;  she  was  moving,  but  I  did 
not  budge.  She  grew  pathetic  ;  she  touched  on  the 
stolen  horse  ;  she  paused,  and  gushed  almost  to  tears, 
as  much  as  to  say,  If  it  must  be,  you  shall  know  all. 
Ruin  stared  them  in  the  face ;  poverty  was  crushing 
them.  It  was  well  acted,  — rather  in  the  Bernhardt 
style,  which,  if  M.  Ondit  speaks  the  truth,  is  also 
employed  rather  extensively  for  acquiring  "  de  mon- 

8 


114  ENGLISH   GYPSIES. 

isli."  I  looked  at  the  van,  of  which  the  Browns  are 
proud,  and  inquired  if  it  were  true  that  it  had  been 
insured  for  a  hundred  pounds,  as  George  had  re- 
cently boasted.  Persuasion  having  failed,  Mrs.  Brown 
tried  bold  defiance,  saying  that  they  needed  no  com- 
pany who  were  no  good  to  them,  and  plainly  said  to 
me  I  might  be  gone.  It  was  her  last  card,  thinking 
that  a  threat  to  dissolve  our  acquaintance  would 
drive  me  to  capitulate,  and  it  failed.  I  laughed, 
went  into  the  van,  sat  down,  took  out  my  brandy 
flask,  and  then  accepted  some  bread  and  ale,  and,  to 
please  them,  read  aloud  all  the  papers  acquitting 
George  from  all  guilt  as  concerned  the  stolen  horse, 
—  papers  which,  he  declared,  had  cost  him  full  five 
pounds.  This  was  a  sad  come-down  from  the  story 
first  told.  Then  I  seriously  rated  his  wife  for  beg- 
ging from  me.  "  You  know  well  enough,"  I  said, 
"that  I  give  all  I  can  spare  to  your  family  and  your 
people  when  they  are  sick  or  poor.  And  here  you 
are,  the  richest  Romanys  on  the  road  between  Wind- 
sor and  the  Boro  Gav,  begging  a  friend,  who  knows 
all  about  you,  for  money!  Now,  here  is  a  shilling. 
Take  it.  Have  half  a  crown  ?  Two  of  'em  !  No  ! 
Oh,  you  don't  want  it  here  in  your  own  house.  AVell, 
you  have  some  decency  left,  and  to  save  your  credit 
I  won't  make  you  take  it.  And  you  scandalize  me, 
a  gentleman  and  a  friend,  just  to  show  this  tramp  of 
a  Stanley  juva,  who  lias  n't  even  got  a  dr;ig  [wagon], 
that  you  can  beat  her  a  monger  in  nuwdy  [begging 
me]." 

Mrs.  Brown  assented  volubly  to  everything,  and 
all  the  time  I  saw  in  her  smiling  eyes,  ever  auivein^ 
to  all,  and  heard  from  her  voluble  lips  nothing  but 
the  lie,  —  that  lie  which  is  the  mental  action  and 


OAT  LANDS  PARK.  115 

inmost  grain  of  the  Romany,  and  especially  of   the 
diddikai,  or   half-breed.     Anything  and   everything 

—  trickery,  wheedling  or  bullying,  fawning  or  threat- 
ening, smiles,  or  rage,  or  tears  —  for  a  sixpence.    All 
day  long  flattering  and   tricking  to  tell  fortunes  or 
sell  trifles,   and  all  life  one  greasy  lie,   with   ready 
frowns  or  smiles  :  as  it  was  in  India  in  the   begin- 
ning, as  it  is  in  Europe,  and  as  it  will  be  in  America, 
so  long  as  there  shall  be  a  rambler  on  the  roads, 
amen  ! 

Sweet  peace  again  established,  Mrs.  Brown  became 
herself  once  more,  and  acted  the  hospitable  hostess, 
exactly  in  the  spirit  and  manner  of  any  woman  who 
has  "a  home  of  her  own,"  and  a  spark  of  decent  feel- 
ing in  her  heart.  Like  many  actors,  she  was  a  bad 
lot  on  the  boards,  but  a  very  nice  person  off  them. 
Here  in  her  rolling  home  she  was  neither  a  beggar 
nor  poor,  and  she  issued  her  orders  grandly.  "  Boil 
some  tea  for  the  rye  —  cook  some  coffee  for  the  rye 

—  wait  a  few  minutes,  my  darling  gentleman,  and  I  '11 
brile  you  a  steak  —  or  here  's  a  fish,  if  you  'd  like  it?" 
But  I  declined  everything  except  the.  corner  of  a  loaf 
and  some  ale;  and  all  the  time  a  little  brown  boy,  with 
great  black  eyes,  a  perfect  Murillo  model,  sat  con- 
densed in  wondrous  narrow  space  by  the  fire,  baking 
small  apples  between  the  bars  of  the  grate,  and  roll- 
ing up  his  orbs  at  me  as  if  wondering  what  could  have 
brought  me  into  such  a  circle,  —  even  as  he  had  done 
that  morning  in  the  greenwood. 

Now  if  the  reader  would  know  what  the  interior  of 
a  gypsy  van,  or  "  drag,"  or  wardo,  is  like,  he  may  see 
it  in  the  following  diagram. 


ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 


A  is  the  door ;  B  is  the  bed,  or  rather  two  beds, 
each  six  feet  long,  like  berths,  with  a  vacant  space 
below ;  O  is  a  grate  cooking-stove  ;  D  is  a  table, 
which  hangs  by  hinges  from  the  wall ;  E  is  a  chest 
of  drawers;  /  and /are  two  chairs.  The  general  ap- 
pearance of  a  well-kept  van  is  that  of  a  state-room. 
Brown's  is  a  very  good  van,  and  quite  clean.  They 
are  admirably  well  adapted  for  slow  traveling,  and  it 
was  in  such  vans,  purchased  from  gypsies,  that  Sir 
Samuel  Baker  and  his  wife  explored  the  whole  of 
Cyprus. 

Mrs.  Brown  was  proud  of  her  van  and  of  her  little 
treasures.  From  the  great  recess  under  the  bed  she 
raked  out  as  a  rare  curiosity  an  old  Dolly  Varden  or 
damasked  skirt,  not  at  all  worn,  quite  pretty,  and  evi- 
dently of  considerable  value  to  a  collector.  This 
had  belonged  to  Mrs.  Brown's  grandmother,  an  old 
gypsy  queen.  And  it  may  be  observed,  by  the  way, 
that  the  claims  of  every  Irishman  of  every  degree  to 
be  descended  from  one  of.  the  ancient  kings  of  Ire- 
land fade  into ,  nothing  before  those  of  the  gypsy 
women,  all  of  whom,  with  rare  exception,  are  the 
own  daughters  of  royal  personages,  gramldaughter- 
liood  being  hardly  a  claim  to  true  nobility.  Then 
tin!  bed  itself  was  exhibited  with  pride,  ,and  the 
princess  sang  its  praises,  till  she  afHrmrd  that  the 
rye  himself  did  not  sleep  on  a  better  one,  for  which 
George  reprimanded  her.  But  she  vigorously  de» 
fended  its  excellence,  and,  to  please  her,  I  felt  it, 


OATLANDS  PARK.  117 

and  declared  it  was  indeed  much  softer  than  the  one 
I  slept  on,  which  was  really  true,  —  thank  Heaven  ! 
—and  was  received  as  a  great  compliment,  and  after- 
wards proclaimed  on  the  roads  even  unto  the  ends  of 
Surrey. 

44  Yes,"  said  Brown,  as  I  observed  some  osiers  in 
the  cupboard,  44  when  I  feels  like  it  I  sometimes 
makes  a  pound  a  day  a-making  baskets." 

44 1  should  think,"  I  said,  "that  it  would  be  cheaper 
to  bay  French  baskets  of  Bulrose  [Bulureaux]  in 
Houndsditch,  ready  made." 

44  So  one  would  think ;  but  the  r  any  or  [osiers] 
costs  nothin1,  and  so  it 's  all  profit,  any  way." 

Then  I  urged  the  greater  profit  of  living  in  Amer- 
ica, but  both  assured  me  that  so  long  as  they  could 
make  a  good  living  and  be  very  comfortable,  as  they 
considered  themselves,  in  England,  it  would  be  non- 
sense to  go  to  America. 

For  all  things  are  relative,  and  many  a  gypsy  whom 
the  begged-f  rom  pity  sincerely,  is  as  proud  and  happy 
in  a  van  as  any  lord  in  the  land.  A  very  nice,  neat 
young  gypsy  woman,  camped  long  before  juH  where 
the  Browns  were,  once  said  to  me,  44  It  is  n't  having 
everything  fine  and  stylish  that  makes  you  happy. 
Now  we  've  got  a  van,  and  have  everything  so  elegant 
and  comfortable,  and  sleep  warm  as  anybody  ;  and 
yet  I  often  say  to  my  husband  that  we  used  to  be 
happier  when  we  used  to  sleep  under  a  hedge  with, 
may  be,  only  a  thin  blanket,  and  wake  up  covered 
with  snow."  Now  this  woman  had  only  a  wretched 
wagon,  and  was  always  tramping  in  the  rain,  or  oow- 
ering  in  a  smoky,  ragged  tent  and  sitting  or*  the 
ground,  but  she  had  food,  fire,  and  fun,  with  virm 
clothes,  and  believed  herself  happy.  Truly,  sh<  had 


118  ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 

better  reason  to  tliink  so  than  any  old  maid  with  a 
heart  run  to  waste  on  church  gossip,  or  the  latest 
engagements  and  marriages ;  for  it  is  better  to  be  a 
street-boy  in  a  corner  with  a  crust  than  one  who, 
without  it,  discusses,  in  starvation,  with  his  friend, 
the  sausages  and  turtle-soup  in  a  cook-shop  window, 
between  which  and  themselves  there  is  a  great  pane 
of  glass  fixed,  never  to  be  penetrated. 


IT. 

WALKING  AND  VISITING. 

I  NEVER  shall  forget  the  sparkling  splendor  of 
that  frosty  morning  in  December  when  I  went  with 
a  younger  friend  from  Oatlands  Park  for  a  day's 
walk.  I  may  have  seen  at  other  times,  but  I  do  not 
remember,  such  winter  lace-work  as  then  adorned  the 
hedges.  The  gossamer  spider  has  within  her  an  in- 
ward monitor  which  tells  if  the  weather  will  be  fine ; 
but  it  says  nothing  about  sudden  changes  to  keen 
cold,  and  the  artistic  result  was  that  the  hedges  were 
hung  with  thousands  of  Honiton  lamp-mats,  instead 
of  the  thread  fly-catchers  which  their  little  artists  had 
intended.  And  on  twigs  and  dead  leaves,  grass  and 
rock  and  wall,  were  such  expenditures  of  Brussels 
and  Spanish  point,  such  a  luxury  of  real  old  Venetian 
run  mad,  and  such  deliria  of  Russian  lace  as  made 
it  evident  that  Mrs.  Jack  Frost  is  a  very  extravagant 
fairy,  but  one  gifted  with  exquisite  taste.  When  I 
reflect  how  I  have  in  my  time  spoken  of  the  taste  for 
lace  and  diamonds  in  women  as  entirely  without 
foundation  in  nature,  I  feel  that  I  sinned  deeply. 
For  Nature,  in  this  lace-work,  displays  at  times  a 
sympathy  with  humanity,  —  especially  womanity,  — 
and  coquets  and  flirts  with  it,  as  becomes  the  sub- 
ject, in  a  manner  which  is  merrily  awful.  There  was 
once  in  Philadelphia  a  shop  the  windows  of  which 
were  always  filled  with  different  kinds  of  the  richest 


120  ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 

and  rarest  lace,  and  one  cold  morning  I  found  thai 
the  fairies  had  covered  the  panes  with  literal  frost 
fac-similes  of  the  exquisite  wares  which  hung  behind. 
This  was  no  fancy  ;  the  copies  were  as  accurate  as 
photographs.  Can  it  be  that  in  the  invisible  world 
there  are  Female  Fairy  Schools  of  Design,  whose 
scholars  combine  in  this  graceful  style  Etching  on 
Glass  and  Art  Needlework  ? 

We  were  going  to  the  village  of  Hersbam  to  make 
a  call.  It  was  not  at  any  stylish  villa  or  lordly  manor- 
house, — though  I  knew  of  more  than  one  in  the  vicin- 
ity where  we  would  have  been  welcome,  —  but  at  a 
rather  disreputable-looking  edifice,  which  bore  on  its 
front  the  sign  of  "  Lodgings  for  Travellers."  Now 
"traveller"  means,  below  a  certain  circle  of  English 
life,  not  the  occasional,  but  the  habitual  wanderer,  or 
one  who  dwells  upon  the  roads,  and  gains  his  living 
thereon.  I  have  in  my  possession  several  cards  of 
such  a  house.  I  found  them  wrapped  in  a  piece  of 
paper,  by  a  deserted  gypsy  camp,  where  they  had 
been  lost :  — 


A  NEW  HOUSE. 

Good  Lodging  for  Travellers.      With   a  Large 

Private  Kitchen. 
THE   CROSS    KEYS, 

WEST  STREET MAIDENHEAD. 

BY  J.  HARRIS. 


The  "  private  kitchen  "  indicates  that  the  guests 
will  have  facilities  for  doing  their  own  cooking,  as 
all  of  them  bring  their  own  victuals  in  perpetual 
picnic.  In  the  inclosure  of  the  house^in  Hersham, 
the  tops  of  two  or  three  gypsy  vans  could  always  be 
seen  above  the  high  fence,  and  there  was  that  gen- 


WALKING  AND  VISITING.  121 

eral  air  of  mystery  about  the  entire  establishment 
which  is  characteristic  of  all  places  haunted  by  peo- 
ple whose  ways  are  not  as  our  ways,  and  whose  little 
games  are  not  as  our  little  games.  I  had  become 
acquainted  with  it  and  its  proprietor,  Mr.  Hamilton, 
in  that  irregular  and  only  way  which  is  usual  with 
such  acquaintances.  I  was  walking  by  the  house 
one  summer  day,  and  stopped  to  ask  my  way.  A 
handsome  dark-brown  girl  was  busy  at  the  wash-tub, 
two  or  three  older  women  were  clustered  at  the  gate, 
and  in  all  their  faces  was  the  manner  of  the  diddikai 
or  chureni,  or  half-blood  gypsy.  As  I  spoke  I  dropped 
my  voice,  and  said,  inquiringly,  — 

"  Romanes  ?  " 

"  Yes,"  was  the  confidential  answer. 

They  were  all  astonished,  and  kept  quiet  till  I  had 
gone  a  few  rods  on  my  way,  when  the  whole  party, 
recovering  from  their  amazement,  raised  a  gentle 
cheer,  expressive  of  approbation  and  sympathy.  A 
few  days  after,  walking  with  a  lady  in  Weybridge, 
she  said  to  me,  — 

"  Who  is  that  man  who  looked  at  you  so  closely  ?  " 

"  I  do  not  know." 

"  That 's  very  strange.  I  am  quite  sure  I  heard 
him  utter  two  words  in  a  strange  language,  as  you 
passed,  as  if  he  only  meant  them  for  you.  They 
sounded  like  sarshaun  baw."  Which  means,  "  How 
are  you,  sir  ?  "  or  friend.  As  we  came  up  the  street, 
I  saw  the  man  talking  with  a  well-dressed,  sporting- 
looking  man,  not  quite  a  gentleman,  who  sat  cheekily 
in  his  own  jaunty  little  wagon.  As  I  passed,  the  one 
of  the  wagon  said  to  the  other,  speaking  of  me,  and 
in  pure  Romany,  evidentlv  thinking  I  did  not  under- 
stand, — 


122  ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 

"  Diktiadovo  G-orgio,  adoi  I  "  (Look  at  that  Gor- 
gio,  there  !) 

Being  a  Romany  rye,  and  not  accustomed  to  be 
spoken  of  as  a  Gorgio,  I  looked  up  at  him,  angrily, 
when  he,  seeing  that  I  understood  him,  smiled,  and 
bowed  politely  in  apology.  I  laughed  and  passed  on. 
But  I  thought  it  a  little  strange,  for  neither  of  the 
men  had  the  slightest  indication  of  gypsiness.  I  met 
the  one  who  had  said  sarishdn  Id  again,  soon  after. 
I  found  that  he  and  the  one  of  the  wagon  were  not 
of  gypsy  blood,  but  of  a  class  not  uncommon  in  Eng- 
land, who,  be  they  rich  or  poor,  are  affected  towards 
gypsies.  The  wealthy  one  lived  with  a  gypsy  mis- 
tregs ;  the  poorer  one  had  a  gypsy  wife,  and  was  very 
fond  of  the  language.  There  is  a  very  large  class  of 
these  mysterious  men  everywhere  about  the  country. 
They  haunt  fairs ;  they  pop  up  unexpectedly  as  Jack- 
in-boxes  in  unsuspected  guise ;  they  look  out  from 
under  fatherly  umbrellas ;  their  name  is  Legion  ; 
their  mother  is  Mystery,  and  their  uncle  is  Old  Tom, 
—  not  of  Virginia,  but  of  Gin.  Once,  in  the  old  town 
of  Canterbury,  I  stood  in  the  street,  under  the  Old 
Woman  with  the  Clock,  one  of  the  quaintest  pieces 
of  drollery  ever  imagined  during  the  Middle  Ages. 
And  by  me  was  a  tinker,  and  as  his  wheel  went 
siz-z-z-z,  uz-uz-uz-z-z  !  I  talked  with  him,  and  there 
joined  us  a  fat,  little,  elderly,  spectacled,  shabby- 
genteel,  but  well-to-do-looking  sort  of  a  punchy, 
small  tradesman.  And,  as  we  spoke,  there  went  by 
/*  great,  stout,  roaring  Romany  woman,  —  a  scarlet- 
runner  of  Babylon  run  to  seed,  —  with  a  boy  and  a 
hand-cart  to  carry  the  seed  in.  And  to  her  I  cried, 
"  Hav  akai  te  mandy  'II  del  tute  a  sJidori  !  "  (Come 
here,  and  I  '11  stand  a  sixpence !)  But  she  did  not 


WALKING  AND  VISITING.  123 

believe  in  my  offer,  but  went  her  way,  like  a  Burning 
Shame,  through  the  crowd,  and  was  lost  evermore.  I 
looked  at  the  little  old  gentleman  to  see  what  effect 
my  outcry  in  a  strange  language  had  upon  him.  But 
he  only  remarked,  soberly,  "  Well,  now,  I  should  'a' 
thought  a  sixpence  would  'a'  brought  her  to  !  "  And 
the  wheel  said,  "  Suz-zuz-zuz-z-z  I  should  'a'  suz-suz  'a' 
thought  a  suz-z-zixpence  would  'a'  suz-zuz  'a'  brought 
her,  too-z-z-z  ! "  And  I  looked  at  the  Old  Woman 
with  the  Clock,  and  she  ticked,  "A  —  six  —  pence 
—  would  —  have  —  brought  —  me  —  two  —  three  — 
four "  —  and  I  began  to  dream  that  all  Canterbury 
was  Romany. 

We  came  to  the  house,  the  landlord  was  up-stairs, 
ill  in  bed,  but  would  be  glad  to  see  us ;  and  he  wel- 
comed us  warmly,  and  went  deeply  into  Romany 
family  matters  with  my  friend,  the  Oxford  scholar. 
Meanwhile,  his  daughter,  a  nice  brunette,  received 
and  read  a  letter  ;  and  he  tried  to  explain  to  me  the 
mystery  of  the  many  men  who  are  not  gypsies,  yet 
speak  Romany,  but  could  not  do  it,  though  he  was 
one  of  them.  It  appeared  from  his  account  that 
they  were  "  a  kind  of  mixed,  you  see,  and  dusted  in, 
you  know,  and  on  it,  out  of  the  family,  it  peppers 
up ;  but  not  exactly,  you  understand,  and  that 's  the 
way  it  is.  And  I  remember  a  case  in  point,  and  that 
was  one  day,  and  I  had  sold  a  horse,  and  was  with  my 
boy  in  a  moramengro' 's  buddika  [barber's  shop],  and 
my  boy  says  to  me,  in  Romanes,  '  Father,  I  'd  like 
to  have  my  hair  cut.'  '  It 's  too  dear  here,  my  son,' 
said  I,  Romaneskes ;  '  for  the  bill  says  threepence.' 
And  then  the  barber,  he  ups  and  says,  in  Romany, 
*  Since  you  're  Romanys,  I  '11  cut  it  for  twopence, 
though  it  's  clear  out  of  all  my  rules.'  And  he  did 


124  ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 

it;  but  why  that  man  rakkered  Romanes  I  don't 
know,  nor  how  it  comes  about ;  for  he  had  n't  no 
more  call  to  it  than  a  pig  has  to  be  a  preacher.  But 
I  've  known  men  in  Sussex  to  take  to  diggin'  truffles 
on  the  same  principles,  and  one  Gorgio  in  Hastings 
that  adopted  sellin'  fried  fish  for  his  livin',  about  the 
town,  because  he  thought  it  was  kind  of  romantic. 
That 's  it." 

Over  the  chimney-piece  hung  a  large  engraving  of 
Milton  and  his  daughters.  It  was  out  of  place,  and 
our  host  knew  it,  and  was  proud.  He  said  he  had 
bought  it  at  an  auction,  and  that  it  was  a  picture  of 
Middleton,  —  a  poet,  he  believed  ;  "  anyhow,  he  was 
a  writing  man."  But,  on  second  thought,  he  remem- 
bered that  the  name  was  not  Middleton,  but  Millerton. 
And  on  further  reflection,  he  was  still  more  convinced 
that  Millerton  ivas  a  poet. 

I  once  asked  old  Matthew  Cooper  the  Romany 
word  for  a  poet.  And  he  promptly  replied  that  he 
had  generally  heard  such  a  man  called  a  givellengero 
or  gilliengro,  which  means  a  song-master,  but  that  he 
himself  regarded  sheresJcero-mush,  or  head-man,  as 
more  elegant  and  deeper ;  for  poets  make  songs  out 
of  their  heads,  and  are  also  ahead  of  all  other  men  in 
head-work.  There  is  a  touching  and  unconscious 
tribute  to  the  art  of  arts  in  this  definition  which  is 
worth  recording.  It  has  been  said  that,  as  people 
grow  polite,  they  cease  to  be  poetical ;  it  is  certain 
that  in  the  first  circles  they  do  not  speak  of  their 
poets  with  such  respect  as  this. 

Out  again  into  the  fresh  air  and  the  frost  on  the 
crisp,  crackling  road  and  in  the  sunshine.  At  such  a 
time,  when  cold  inspires  life,  one  can  understand  why 
the  old  poets  and  mystics  believed  that  there  was  fire 


WALKING  AND  VISITING.  125 

in  ice.  Therefore,  Saint  Sebaldus,  coming  into  the  hut 
of  a  poor  and  pious  man  who  was  dying  of  cold,  went 
out,  and,  bringing  in  an  armful  of  icicles,  laid  them  on 
the  andirons  and  made  a  good  fire.  Now  this  fire  was 
the  inner  glowing  glory  of  God,  and  worked  both 
ways,  —  of  course  you  see  the  connection,  —  as  was 
shown  in  Adelheid  von  Sigolsheim,  the  Holy  Nun  of 
Unterlinden,  who  was  so  full  of  it  that  she  passed 
the  night  in  a  freezing  stream,  and  then  stood  all 
the  morning,  ice-clad,  in  the  choir,  and  never  caught 
cold.  And  the  pious  Peroneta,  to  avoid  a  sinful  suit- 
or, lived  all  winter,  up  to  her  neck,  in  ice-water,  on 
the  highest  Alp  in  Savoy.1  These  were  saints.  But 
there  was  a  gypsy,  named  Dighton,  encamped  near 
Brighton,  who  told  me  nearly  the  same  story  of  an- 
other gypsy,  who  was  no  saint,  and  which  I  repeat 
merely  to  show  how  extremes  meet.  It  was  that 
this  gypsy,  who  was  inspired  with  anything  but  the 
inner  glowing  glory  of  God,  but  who  wa&,  on  the 
contrary,  cram  full  of  pure  cussedness,  being  warmed 
by  the  same,  —  and  the  devil,  —  when  chased  by  the 
constable,  took  refuge  in  a  river  full  of  freezing  slush 
and  broken  ice,  where  he  stood  up  to  his  neck  and 
•lefied  capture ;  for  he  verily  cared  no  more  for  it 
than  did  Saint  Peter  of  Alcantara,  who  was  both  ice 
and  fire  proof.  "  Come  out  of  that,  my  good  man," 
said  the  gentleman,  whose  hen  he  had  stolen,  "and 
I  '11  let  you  go."  "  No,  I  won't  come  out,"  said  the 
gypsy.  "My  blood  be  on  your  head  !"  So  the  gen- 
tleman offered  him  five  pounds,  and  then  a  suit  of 
clothes,  to  come  ashore.  The  gypsy  reflected,  and  at 
last  said,  "  Well,  if  you  '11  add  a  drink  of  spirits,  I  '11 
come ;  but  it 's  only  to  oblige  you  that  I  budge." 
1  Qoerres,  Christliche  Mystilc,  i.  296.  1.  23. 


126  ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 

Then  we  walked  in  the  sober  evening,  with  its 
gray  gathering  shadows,  as  the  last  western  rose  light 
rippled  in  the  river,  yet  fading  in  the  sky,  —  like  a 
good  man  who,  in  dying,  speaks  cheerfully  of  earthly 
things,  while  his  soul  is  vanishing  serenely  into  heaven. 
The  swans,  looking  like  snowballs,  unconscious  of 
cold,  were  taking  their  last  swim  towards  the  reedy, 
brake-tangled  islets  where  they  nested,  gossiping  as 
they  went.  The  deepening  darkness,  at  such  a  time, 
becomes  more  impressive  from  the  twinkling  stars, 
just  as  the  subduing  silence  is  noted  only  by  the  far- 
borne  sounds  from  the  hamlet  or  farm-house,  or  the 
occasional  whispers  of  the  night-breeze.  So  we  went 
on  in  the  twilight,  along  the  Thames,  till  we  saw 
the  night-fire  of  the  Romanys  and  its  gleam  on  the 
tan.  A  tan  is,  strictly  speaking,  a  tent,  but  a  tent  is 
a  dwelling,  or  stopping-place ;  and  so  from  earliest 
Aryan  time,  the  word  tan  is  like  Alabama,  or  "  here 
we  rest,"  and  may  be  found  in  tun,  the  ancestor  of 
town,  and  in  stan,  as  in  Hindostan,  —  and  if  I  blun- 
der, so  much  the  better  for  the  philological  gentle- 
men, who,  of  all  others,  most  delight  in  setting  erring 
brothers  right,  and  never  miss  a  chance  to  show, 
through  others'  shame,  how  much  they  know. 

There  was  a  bark  of  a  dog,  and  a  voice  said,  "  The 
Romany  rye  !  "  They  had  not  seen  us,  but  the  dog 
knew,  and  they  knew  his  language. 

"  Sarishan  ryor  !  " 

"0  boro  duvel  atcti  pa  leste!"  (The  great  Lord  be 
on  you  !)  This  is  not  a  common  Romany  greeting. 
It  is  of  ancient  days  and  archaic.  Sixty  or  seventy 
years  ago  it  WHS  current.  Old  Gentilla  Cooper,  the  fa- 
mous fortune-teller  of  the  Devil's  Dike,  near  Brigh- 
ton, knew  it,  and  when  she  heard  it  from  me  she 


WALKING  AND  VISITING.  127 

was  moved,  —  just  as  a  very  old  negro  in  London 
was,  when  I  said  to  him,  "&ady,  uncle."  I  said  it 
because  I  had  recognized  by  the  dog's  bark  that  it 
was  Sam  Smith's  tan.  Sam  likes  to  be  considered 
as  deep  Romany.  He  tries  to  learn  old  gypsy  words, 
and  he  affects  old  gypsy  ways.  He  is  pleased  to  be 
called  Petulengro,  which  means  Smith.  Therefore, 
my  greeting  was  a  compliment. 

In  a  few  minutes  we  were  in  camp  and  at  home. 
We  talked  of  many  things,  and  among  others  of 
witches.  It  is  remarkable  that  while  the  current 
English  idea  of  a  witch  is  that  of  an  old  woman  who 
has  sold  herself  to  Satan,  and  is  a  distinctly  marked 
character,  just  like  Satan  himself,  that  of  the  witch 
among  gypsies  is  general  and  Oriental.  There  is  no 
Satan  in  India.  Mrs.  Smith  —  since  dead  —  held 
that  witches  were  to  be  found  everywhere.  "You 
may  know  a  natural  witch,"  she  said,  "by  certain 
signs.  One  of  these  is  straight  hair  which  curls  at 
the  ends.  Such  women  have  it  in  them." 

It  was  only  recently,  as  I  write,  that  I  was  at  a 
very  elegant  art  reception,  which  was  fully  reported 
in  the  newspapers.  And  I  was  very  much  astonished 
when  a  lady  called  my  attention  to  another  young 
and  very  pretty  lady,  and  expressed  intense  disgust 
at  the  way  the  latter  wore  her  hair.  It  was  simply 
parted  in  the  middle,  and  fell  down  on  either  side, 
smooth  as  a  water-fall,  and  then  broke  into  curls  at 
the  ends,  just  as  water,  after  falling,  breaks  into 
waves  and  rapids.  But  as  she  spoke,  I  felt  it  all, 
and  saw  that  Mrs.  Petulengro  was  in  the  right.  The 
girl  with  the  end-curled  hair  was  uncanny.  Her  hair 
curled  at  the  ends,  —  so  did  her  eyes;  she  was  a 
witch. 


128  ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 

"  But  there  's  a  many  witches  as  knows  clever 
things,"  said  Mrs.  Petulengro.  "  And  I  learned 
from  one  of  them  how  to  cure  the  rheumatiz.  Sup- 
pose you  Ve  got  the  rheumatiz.  Well,  just  you  carry 
a  potato  in  your  pocket.  As  the  potato  dries  up, 
your  rheumatiz  will  go  away." 

Sam  Smith  was  always  known  on  the  roads  as 
Fighting  Sam.  Years  have  passed,  and  when  I  have 
asked  after  him  I  have  always  heard  that  he  was  either 
in  prison  or  had  just  been  let  out.  Once  it  happened 
that,  during  a  fight  with  a  Gorgio,  the  Gorgio's  watch 
disappeared,  and  Sam  was  arrested  under  suspicion 
of  having  got  up  the  fight  in  order  that  the  watch 
mi'ght  disappear.  All  of  his  friends  declared  his  in- 
nocence. The  next  trouble  was  for  cliorin  a  gry,  or 
stealing  a  horse,  and  so  was  the  next,  and  so  on. 
As  horse-stealing  is  not  a  crime,  but  only  "rough 
gambling,"  on  the  roads,  nobody  defended  him  on 
these  counts.  He  was,  so  far  as  this  went,  only  a 
sporting  character.  When  his  wife  died  he  married 
Athalfa,  the  widow  of  Joshua  Cooper,  a  gypsy,  of 
whom  I  shall  speak  anon.  I  always  liked  Sam. 
Among  the  travelers,  lie  was  always  spoken  of  as 
genteel,  owing  to  the  fact,  that  whatever  the  state 
of  his  wardrobe  might  be,  he  always  wore  about  his 
neck  an  immaculate  white  woolen  scarf,  and  on  jours 
de  fete,  such  as  horse-races,  sported  a  boro  stardl,  or 
chimney-pot  hat.  O  my  friend,  Colonel  Dash,  of 

the club  !     Change  but  the  name,  this  fable  is 

of  thee ! 

"  There  's  to  be  a  walgoro,  kaliko  i  sala  —  a  fair 
to-morrow  morning,  at  Cobham,"  said  Sam,  as  he  de* 
parted. 

"All  right.     We '11  be  there." 


WALKING  AND  VISITING.  129 

As  I  went  forth  by  the  river  into  the  night,  and 
the  stars  looked  down  like  loving  eyes,  there  shot  a 
meteor  across  the  sky,  one  long  trail  of  light,  out  of 
darkness  into  darkness,  one  instant  bright,  then  dead 
forever.  And  I  remembered  how  I  once  was  told 
that  stars,  like  mortals,  often  fall  in  love.  O  love, 
forever  in  thy  glory  go  !  And  that  they  send  their 
starry  angels  forth,  and  that  the  meteors  are  their 
messengers.  O  love,  forever  in  thy  glory  go !  For 
love  and  light  in  heaven,  as  on  earth,  were  ever  one, 
and  planets  speak  with  light.  Light  is  their  lan- 
guage; as  they  love  they  speak.  O  love,  forever 
in  thy  glory  go  I 
9 


III. 

COBHAM  FAIR. 

THE  walk  from  Oatlands  Park  Hotel  to  Cobham 
is  beautiful  with  memorials  of  Older  England.  Even 
on  the  grounds  there  is  a  quaint  brick  gatewaj1", 
which  is  the  only  relic  of  a  palace  which  preceded 
the  present  pile.  The  grandfather  was  indeed  a 
.stately  edifice,  built  by  Henry  VIII.,  improved  and 
magnified,  according  to  his  lights,  by  Inigo  Jones, 
and  then  destroyed  during  the  civil  war.  The 
river  is  here  very  beautiful,  and  the  view  was  once 
painted  by  Turner.  It  abounds  in  "  short  windings 
and  reaches."  Here  it  is,  indeed,  the  Olerifera  Tha- 
mesis,  as  it  was  called  by  Guillaume  le  Breton  in 
his  "  Phillipeis,"  in  the  days  of  Richard  the  Lion 
Heart.  Here  the  eyots  and  banks  still  recall  Nor- 
man days,  for  they  are  "  wild  and  were ; "  and  there 
is  even  yet  a  wary  otter  or  two,  known  to  the  gyp- 
sies and  fishermen,  which  may  be  seen  of  moonlight 
nights  plunging  or  swimming  silently  in  the  haunted 
water. 

Now  we  pass  Walton  Church,  and  look  in,  that 
my  friend  may  see  the  massy  Norman  pillars  and 
arches,  the  fine  painted  glass,  and  the  brasses.  One 
of  these  represents  John  Selwyn,  who  was  keeper  of 
the  royal  park  of  Oatlands  in  1587.  Tradition, 
still  current  in  the  village,  says  that  Selwyn  was  a 
man  of  wondrous  strength  and  of  rare  skill  in  horse- 


COBHAM  FAIR.  131 

manship.  Once,  when  Queen  Elizabeth  was  present 
at  a  stag  hunt,  he  leaped  from  his  horse  upon  the 
back  of  the  stag,  while  both  were  running  at  full 
speed,  kept  his  seat  gracefully,  guided  the  animal 
towards  the  queen,  and  stabbed  him  so  deftly  that 
he  fell  dead  at  her  majesty's  feet.  It  was  daintily 
done,  and  doubtless  Queen  Bess,  who  loved  a  proper 
man,  was  well  pleased.  The  brass  plate  represents 
Selwyn  as  riding  on  the  stag,  and  there  is  in  the  vil- 
lage a  shop  where  the  neat  old  dame  who  presides, 
or  her  daughter,  will  sell  you  for  a  penny  a  picture 
of  the  plate,  and  tell  you  the  story  into  the  bargain. 
In  it  the  valiant  ranger  sits  on  the  stag,  which  he  is 
stabbing  through  the  neck  with  his  couteau  de  chasse, 
looking  meanwhile  as  solemn  as  if  he  were  sitting  in 
a  pew  and  listening  to  De  profundis.  He  who  is 
great  in  one  respect  seldom  fails  in  some  other,  and 
there  is  in  the  church  another  and  a  larger  brass, 
from  which  it  appears  that  Selwyn  not  only  had  a 
wife,  but  also  eleven  children,  who  are  depicted  in 
successive  grandeur  or  gradation.  There  are  monu- 
ments by  Roubiliac  and  Chan  trey  in  the  church,  and 
on  the  left  side  of  the  altar  lies  buried  William  Lilly, 
the  great  astrologer,  the  Sidrophel  of  Butler's  "  Hu- 
dibras."  And  look  into  the  chancel.  There  is  a 
tablet  to  his  memory,  which  was  put  up  by  Elias 
Ashmole,  the  antiquary,  who  has  left  it  in  print  that 
this  "fair  black  marble  stone"  cost  him  £6  4s.  Qd. 
When  I  was  a  youth,  and  used  to  pore  in  the  old 
Franklin  Library  of  Philadelphia  over  Lilly,  I  never 
thought  that  his  grave  would  be  so  near  my  home. 
But  a  far  greater  literary  favorite  of  mine  lies  buried 
in  the  church-yard  without.  This  is  Dr.  Maginn,  the 
author  of  "  Father  Tom  and  the  Pope,"  and  many 


132  '    ENGLISH   GYPSIES. 

another  racy,  subtle  jest.    A  fellow  of  infinite  humor, 

—  the  truest  disciple  of  Rabelais,  —  and  here  he  lies 
without  a  monument ! 

Summon  the  sexton,  and  let  us  ask  him  to  show 
us  the  scold's,  or  gossip's,  bridle.  This  is  a  rare 
curiosity,  which  is  kept  in  the  vestry.  It  would 
seem,  from  all  that  can  be  learned,  that  two  hundred 
years  ago  there  were  in  England  viragoes  so  virulent, 
women  so  gifted  with  gab  and  so  loaded  and  primed 
with  the  devil's  own  gunpowder,  that  all  moral  sua- 
sion was  wasted  on  them,  and  simply  showed,  as  old 
Reisersberg  wrote,  that  fatue  agit  qui  ignem  conatur 
extinguere  sulphure  ('t  is  all  nonsense  to  try  to  quench 
fire  with  brimstone).  For  such  diavolas  they  had 
made  —  what  the  sexton  is  just  going  to  show  you 

—  a  muzzle  of  thin  iron  bars,  which  pass  around  the 
head  and  are  padlocked  behind.     In  front  a  flat  piece 
of  iron  enters  the  mouth  and  keeps  down  the  tongue. 
On  it  is  the  date  1633,  and  certain  lines,  no  longer 
legible :  — 

"  Chester  presents  Walton  with  a  bridle, 
To  curb  women's  tongues  that  talk  too  idle/' 

A  sad  story,  if  we  only  knew  it  all !  What  tra- 
dition tells  is  that  long  ago  there  was  a  Master  Ches- 
ter, who  lost  a  fine  estate  through  the  idle,  malicious 
clack  of  a  gossiping,  lying  woman.  "  What  is  good 
for  a  bootless  bene  ?  "  What  he  did  was  to  endow 
the  church  with  this  admirable  piece  of  head-gear. 
And  when  any  woman  in  the  parish  was  unanimously 
adjudged  to  be  deserving  of  the  honor,  the  bridle 
was  put  on  her  head  and  tongue,  and  she  was  led 
about  town  by  the  beadle  as  an  example  to  all  the 
scolding  sisterhood.  Truly,  if  it  could  only  be  applied 
to  the  women  and  men  who  repeat  gossip,  rumors 


COBHAM  FAIR.  133 

reports,  on  dits,  small  slanders,  proved  or  unproved; 
to  all  gobe-m ouches,  club-gabblers,  tea-talkers  and 
tattlers,  chatterers,  church-twaddlers,  wonderers  if- 
it-be-true-what-they-say ;  in  fine,  to  the  entire  sister 
and  brother  hood  of  tongue-waggers,  I  for  one  would 
subscribe  my  mite  to  have  one  kept  in  every  church 
in  the  world,  to  be  zealously  applied  to  their  vile 
jaws.  For  verily  the  mere  Social  Evil  is  an  angel  of 
light  on  this  earth  as  regards  doing  evil,  compared 
to  the  Sociable  Evil,  —  and  thus  endeth  the  first  les- 
son. 

We  leave  the  church,  so  full  of  friendly  memories. 
In  this  one  building  alone  there  are  twenty  things 
known  to  me  from  a  boy.  For  from  boyhood  I  have 
held  in  my  memory  those  lines  by  Queen  Elizabeth 
which  she  uttered  here,  and  have  read  Lilly  and  Ash- 
mole  and  Maginn ;  and  this  is  only  one  corner  in 
merrie  England  !  Am  I  a  stranger  here  ?  There  is 
a  father-land  of  the  soul,  which  has  no  limits  to  him 
who,  far  sweeping  on  the  wings  of  song  and  history, 
goes  forth  over  many  lands. 

We  have  but  a  little  farther  to  go  on  our  way  be- 
fore we  come  to  the  quaint  old  manor-house  which 
was  of  old  the  home  of  President  Bradshaw,  the 
grim  old  Puritan.  There  is  an  old  sailor  in  the  vil- 
lage, who  owns  a  tavern,  and  he  says,  and  the  po- 
liceman agrees  with  him,  that  it  was  in  this  house 
that  the  death-warrant  of  King  Charles  the  First  was 
signed.  Also,  that  there  is  a  subterranean  passage 
which  leads  from  it  to  the  Thames,  which  was  in 
lome  way  connected  with  battle,  murder,  plots,  Puri- 
tans, sudden  death,  and  politics  ;  though  how  this 
was  is  more  than  legend  can  clearly  explain.  Whether 
Ms  sacred  majesty  was  led  to  execution  through  this 


134  ENGLISH   GYPSIES. 

cavity,  or  whether  Charles  the  Second  had  it  for  one 
of  his  numerous  hiding-places,  or  returned  through 
it  with  Nell  Gwynn  from  his  exile,  are  other  obscure 
points  debated  among  the  villagers.  The  truth  is 
that  the  whole  country  about  Walton  is  subterrened 
with  strange  and  winding  ways,  leading  no  one  knows 
whither,  dug  in  the  days  of  the  monks  or  knights, 
from  one  long-vanished  monastery  or  castle  to  the 
other.  There  is  the  opening  to  one  of  these  hard 
by  the  hotel,  but  there  was  never  any  gold  found  in 
it  that  ever  I  heard  of.  And  all  the  land  is  full  of 
legend,  and  ghosts  glide  o'  nights  along  the  alleys, 
and  there  is  an  infallible  fairy  well  at  hand,  named 
the  Nun,  and  within  a  short  walk  stands  the  tre- 
mendous Crouch  oak,  which  was  known  of  Saxon 
days.  Whoever  gives  but  a  little  of  its  bark  to  a 
lady  will  win  her  love.  It  takes  its  name  from  croix 
(a  cross),  according  to  Mr.  Kemble,1  and  it  is  twenty- 
four  feet  in  girth.  Its  first  branch,  which  is  forty- 
eight  feet  long,  shoots  out  horizontally,  and  is  almost 
as  large  as  the  trunk.  Under  this  tree  Wickliife 
preached,  and  Queen  Elizabeth  dined. 

It  has  been  well  said  by  Irving  that  the  English, 
from  the  great  prevalence  of  rural  habits  throughout 
every  class  of  society,  have  been  extremely  fond  of 
those  festivals  and  holidays  which  agreeably  inter- 
rupt the  stillness  of  country  life.  True,  the  days 
have  gone  when  burlesque  pageant  and  splendid  pro- 
cession made  even  villages  magnificent.  Harp  and 
tabor  and  viol  are  no  longer  heard  in  every  inn  when 
people  would  be  merry,  and  men  have  forgotten  how 
to  give  themselves  up  to  headlong  roaring  levelry. 
The  last  of  this  tremendous  frolicking  in  Europe 
1  The  Saxons  in  England,  i.  3. 


COBHAM  FAIR.  135 

died  out  with  the  last  yearly  Jcermess  in  Amster- 
dam, and  it  was  indeed  wonderful  to  see  with  what 
utter  abandon  the  usually  stolid  Dutch  flung  them- 
selves into  a  rushing  tide  of  frantic  gayety.  Here 
and  there  in  England  a  spark  of  the  old  fire,  lit  in 
mediaeval  times,  still  flickers,  or  perhaps  flames,  as 
at  Dorking  in  the  annual  foot-ball  play,  which  is 
carried  on  with  such  vigor  that  two  or  three  thousand 
people  run  wild  in  it,  while  all  the  windows  and  street 
lamps  are  carefully  screened  for  protection.  But  not- 
withstanding the  gradually  advancing  republicanism 
of  the  age,  which  is  dressing  all  men  alike,  bodily 
and  mentally,  the  rollicking  democracy  of  these  old- 
fashioned  festivals,  in  which  the  peasant  bonneted  the 
peer  without  ceremony,  and  rustic  maids  ran  races 
en  chemise  for  a  pound  of  tea,  is  entirely  too  leveling 
for  culture.  There  are  still,  however,  numbers  of 
village  fairs,  quietly  conducted,  in  which  there  is 
much  that  is  pleasant  and  picturesque,  and  this  at 
Cobham  was  as  pretty  a  bit  of  its  kind  as  I  ever 
saw.  These  are  old-fashioned  and  gay  in  their  little 
retired  nooks,  and  there  the  plain  people  show  them- 
selves as  they  really  are.  The  better  class  of  the 
neighborhood,  having  no  sympathy  with  such  sports 
or  scenes,  do  not  visit  village  fairs.  It  is,  indeed,  a 
most  exceptional  thing  to  see  any  man  who  is  a 
"  gentleman,"  according  to  the  society  standard,  in 
any  fair  except  Mayfair  in  London. 

Cobham  is  well  built  for  dramatic  display.  Its 
White  Lion  Inn  is  of  the  old  coaching  days,  and  the 
lion  on  its  front  is  a  very  impressive  monster,  one  of 
the  few  relics  of  the  days  when  signs  were  signs  in 
spirit  and  in  truth.  In  this  respect  the  tavern  keeper 
of  to-day  is  a  poor  snob,  that  he  thinks  a  sign  painted 


136  ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 

or  carven  is  degenerate  and  low,  and  therefore  an- 
nounces, in  a  line  of  letters,  that  his  establishment  is 
the  Pig  and  Whistle,  just  as  his  remote  predecessor 
thought  it  was  low,  or  slow,  or  old-fashioned  to  ded- 
icate his  ale-shop  to  Pigen  Wassail  or  Hail  to  the 
Virgin,  and  so  changed  it  to  a  more  genteel  and  sec- 
ular form.  In  the  public  place  were  rows  of  booths 
arranged  in  streets  forming  imperium  in  imperio,  a 
town  within  a  town.  There  was  of  course  the  tradi- 
tional gilt  gingerbread,  and  the  cheering  but  not  ine- 
briating ginger-beer,  dear  to  the  youthful  palate,  and 
not  less  loved  by  the  tired  pedestrian,  when,  mixed 
half  and  half  with  ale,  it  foams  before  him  as  shandy 
gaff.  There,  too,  were  the  stands,  presided  over  by 
jaunty,  saucy  girls,  who  would  load  a  rifle  for  you 
and  give  you  a  prize  or  a  certain  number  of  shots  for 
a  shilling.  You  may  be  a  good  shot,  but  the  better 
you  shoot  the  less  likely  will  you  be  to  hit  the  bull's- 
eye  with  the  rifle  which  that  black-eyed  Egyptian 
minx  gives  you;  for  it  is  artfully  curved  and  false- 
sighted,  and  the  rifle  was  made  only  to  rifle  your 
pocket,  and  the  damsel  to  sell  you  with  her  smiles, 
and  the  doll  is  stuffed  with  sawdust,  and  life  is  not 
worth  living  for,  and  Miching  Mallocko  says  it,  — 
albeit  I  believe  he  lives  at  times  as  if  there  might  be 
moments  when  it  was  forgot. 

And  we  had  not  been  long  on  the  ground  before 
we  were  addressed  furtively  and  gravely  by  a  man 
whom  it  required  a  second  glance  to  recognize  as 
Samuel  Petulengro,  so  artfully  was  he  disguised  as  a 
simple-seeming  agriculturalist  of  the  better  lower- 
cla^ss.  But  that  there  remained  in  Sam's  black  eyes 
that  glint  of  the  Romany  which  nothing  could  dis- 
guise, one  would  have  longed  to  buy  a  horse  of  him. 


COBHAM  FAIR.  137 

And  in  the  same  quiet  way  there  came,  one  by  one, 
out  of  the  crowd,  six  others,  all  speaking  in  subdued 
voices,  like  conspirators,  and  in  Romany,  as  if  it  were 
a  sin.  And  all  were  dressed  rustically,  and  the  same 
with  intent  to  deceive,  and  all  had  the  solemn  air  of 
very  small  farmers,  who  must  sell  that  horse  at  any 
sacrifice.  But  when  I  saw  Sam's  horses  I  marked 
that  his  disguise  of  himself  was  nothing  to  the  won- 
drous skill  with  which  he  had  converted  his  five-pound 
screws  into  something  comparatively  elegant.  They 
had  been  curried,  clipped,  singed,  and  beautified  to 
the  last  resource,  and  the  manner  in  which  the  finest 
straw  had  been  braided  into  mane  and  tail  was  a 
miracle  of  art.  This  was  a  jour  de  fete  for  Sam  and 
his  diddikai,  or  half-blood  pals ;  his  foot  was  on  his 
native  heath  in  the  horse-fair,  where  all  inside  the 
ring  knew  the  gypsy,  and  it  was  with  pride  that  he 
invited  us  to  drink  ale,  and  once  in  the  bar-room, 
where  all  assembled  were  jockeys  and  sharps,  con- 
versed loudly  in  Romany,  in  order  to  exhibit  himself 
and  us  to  admiring  friends.  A  Romany  rye,  on  such 
occasions,  is  to  a  Sam  Petulengro  what  a  scion  of 
royalty  is  to  minor  aristocracy  when  it  can  lure  him 
into  its  nets.  To  watch  one  of  these  small  horse- 
dealers  at  a  fair,  and  to  observe  the  manner  in  which 
he  conducts  his  bargains,  is  very  curious.  He  lounges 
about  all  day,  apparently  doing  nothing;  he  is  the 
only  idler  around.  Once  in  a  while  somebody  ap- 
proaches him  and  mutters  something,  to  which  he 
gives  a  brief  reply.  Then  he  goes  to  a  tap-room  or 
stable-yard,  and  is  merged  in  a  mob  of  his  mates. 
But  all  the  while  he  is  doing  sharp  clicks  of  business. 
There  is  somebody  talking  to  another  party  .about 
(hat  horse  ;  somebody  telling  a  farmer  that  he  knows 


138  ENGLISH   GYPSIES. 

a  young  man  as  has  got  a  likely  'oss  at  'arf  price, 
the  larst  of  a  lot  which  he  wants  to  clear  out,  and 
it  may  be  'ad,  but  if  the  young  man  sees  'im  [the 
farmer]  he  may  put  it  on  'eavy. 

Then  the  agent  calls  in  one  of  the  disguised  Rom- 
anys  to  testify  to  the  good  qualities  of  the  horse. 
They  look  at  it,  but  the  third  deguisg,  who  has  it  in 
charge,  avers  that  it  has  just  been  sold  to  a  gentle- 
man. But  they  have  another.  By  this  time  the 
farmer  wishes  he  had  bought  the  horse.  When  any 
coin  slips  from  between  our  fingers,  and  rolls  down 
through  a  grating  into  the  sewer,  we  are  always  sure 
that  it  was  a  sovereign,  and  not  a  half-penny.  Yes, 
and  the  fish  which  drops  back  from  the  line  into  the 
river  is  always  the  biggest  take  —  or  mistake  —  of  the 
day.  And  this  horse  was  a  bargain,  and  the  three  in 
disguise  say  so,  and  wish  they  had  a  hundred  like  it. 
But  there  comes  a  Voice  from  the  depths,  a  casual 
remark,  offering  to  bet  that  'ere  gent  won't  close  on 
that  hoss.  "  Bet  yer  ten  bob  he  will."  "  Done." 
"  How  do  yer  know  he  don't  take  the  hoss  ?  "  "  He 
carn't ;  he 's  too  heavy  loaded  with  Bill's  mare. 
Says  he  '11  sell  it  for  a  pound  better."  The  farmer 
begins  to  see  his  way.  He  is  shrewd ;  it  may  be  that 
he  sees  through  all  this  myth  of  "the  gentleman." 
But  his  attention  has  been  attracted  to  the  horse. 
Perhaps  he  pays  a  little  more,  or  "  the  pound  bet- 
ter; "  in  greater  probability  he  gets  Sam's  horse  for 
the  original  price.  There  are  many  ways  among 
gypsies  of  making  such  bargains,  but  the  motive 
power  of  them  all  is  tdderin,  or  drawing  the  eye  ol 
the  purchaser,  a  game  not  unknown  to  Gorgios.  I 
have  heard  of  a  German  yahiid  in  Philadelphia, 
whose  little  boy  Moses  would  shoot  from  the  dool 


COBHAM  FAIR.  139 

with  a  pop-gun  or  squirt  at  passers-by,  or  abuse  them 
vilely,  and  then  run  into  the  shop  for  shelter.  They 
of  course  pursued  him  and  complained  to  the  parent, 
who  immediately  whipped  his  son,  to  the  great  solace 
of  the  afflicted  ones.  And  then  the  afflicted  seldom 
failed  to  buy  something  in  that  shop,  and  the  cor- 
rected son  received  ten  per  cent,  of  the  profit.  The 
attention  of  the  public  had  been  drawn. 

As  we  went  about  looking  at  people  and  pastimes, 
a  Romany,  I  think  one  of  the  Ayres,  said  to  rne,  — 

"  See  the  two  policemen  ?  They  're  following  you 
two  gentlemen.  They  saw  you  pallin'  with  Bowers. 
That  Dowers  is  the  biggest  blackguard  on  the  roads 
between  London  and  Windsor.  I  don't  want  to  hurt 
his  charackter,  but  it 's  no  bad  talkin'  nor  dusherin  of 
him  to  say  that  no  decent  Romanys  care  to  go  with 
him.  Good  at  a  mill  ?  Yes,  he  's  that.  A  reg'lar 
wastimengrO)  I  call  him.  And  that's  why  it  is." 

Now  there  was  in  the  fair  a  vast  institution  which 
proclaimed  by  a  monstrous  sign  and  by  an  excessive 
eruption  of  advertisement  that  it  was  THE  SENSA- 
TION OF  THE  AGE.  This  was  a  giant  hand-organ  in 
connection  with  a  forty-bicycle  merry-go-round,  all 
propelled  by  steam.  And  as  we  walked  about  the 
fair,  the  two  rural  policemen,  who  had  nothing  better 
to  do,  shadowod  or  followed  us,  their  bucolic  features 
expressing  the  intensest  suspicion  allied  to  the  ex- 
tremest  stupidity ;  when  suddenly  the  Sensation  of 
the  Age  struck  up  the  Gendarme's  chorus,  "  We  '11 
run  'em  in,"  from  Genevieve  de  Brabant,  and  the 
arrangement  was  complete.  Of  all  airs  ever  com 
posed  this  was  the  most  appropriate  to  the  occasion, 
and  therefore  it  played  itself.  The  whole  formed 
quite  a  little  opera-bouffe,  gypsies  not  being  wanting, 


140  ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 

And  as  we  came  round,  in  our  promenade,  the  pretty 
girl,  with  her  rifle  in  hand,  implored  us  to  take  a  shot, 
and  the  walk  wound  up  by  her  finally  letting  fly  her- 
self and  ringing  the  bell. 

That  pretty  girl  might  or  might  not  have  a  touch 
of  Romany  blood  ^n  her  veins,  but  it  is  worth  noting 
that  among  all  these  show-men  and  show-women, 
acrobats,  exhibitors  of  giants,  purse-droppers,  ginger- 
bread-wheel gamblers,  shilling  knife-throwers,  pitch- 
in-his-mouths,  Punches,  Cheap-Jacks,  thimble-rigs, 
and  patterers  of  every  kind  there  is  always  a  leaven 
and  a  suspicion  of  gypsiness.  If  there  be  not  descent, 
there  is  affinity  by  marriage,  familiarity,  knowledge 
of  words  and  ways,  sweethearting  and  trafficking,  so 
that  they  know  the  children  of  the  Rom  as  the  house- 
world  does  not  know  them,  and  they  in  some  sort 
belong  together.  It  is  a  muddle,  perhaps,  and  a  puz- 
zle;  I  doubt  if  anybody  quite  understands  it.  No 
novelist,  no  writer  whatever,  has  as  yet  clearly  ex- 
plained the  curious  fact  that  our  entire  nomadic  pop- 
ulation, excepting  tramps,  is  not,  as  we  thought  in 
our  childhood,  composed  of  English  people  like  our- 
selves. It  is  leavened  with  direct  Indian  blood ;  it 
has,  more  or  less  modified,  a  peculiar  morale.  It  was 
old  before  the  Saxon  heptarchy. 

I  was  very  much  impressed'  at  this  fair  with  the 
extensive  and  unsuspected  amount  of  Romany  ex- 
istent in  our  rural  population.  We  had  to  be  sat- 
isfied, as  we  came  late  into  the  tavern  for  lunch, 
with  cold  boiled  beef  and  carrots,  of  which  I  did 
not  complain,  as  cold  carrots  are  much  nicer  than 
warm,  a  fact  too  little  understood  in  cookery.  There 
were  many  men  in  the  common  room,  mostly  well 
dressed,  and  decent  even  if  doubtful  looking.  I  ob. 


COBHAM  FAIR.  141 

served  that  several  used  Romany  words  in  casual  con- 
versation. I  came  to  the  conclusion  at  last  that  all 
who  were  present  knew  something  of  it.  The  greatly 
reprobated  Bowers  was  not  himself  a  gypsy,  but  he 
had  a  gypsy  wife.  He  lived  in  a  cottage  not  far 
from  Walton,  and  made  baskets,  while  his  wife  roamed 
far  and  near,  selling  them ;  and  I  have  more  than  once 
stopped  and  sent  for  a  pot  of  ale,  and  shared  it  with 
Bill,  listening  meantime  to  his  memories  of  the  road 
as  he  caned  chairs  or  "  basketed."  I  think  his  rep- 
utation came  rather  from  a  certain  Bohemian  disre- 
gard of  convenances  and  of  appearances  than  from  any 
deeply-seated  sinfulness.  For  there  are  Bohemians 
even  among  gypsies ;  everything  in  this  life  being 
relative  and  socially-contractive.  When  I  came  to 
know  the  disreputable  William  well,  I  found  in  him 
the  principles  of  Panurge,  deeply  identified  with  the 
morale  of  Falstaff ;  a  wondrous  fund  of  unbundled 
humor,  which  expressed  itself  more  by  tones  than 
words ;  a  wisdom  based  on  the  practices  of  the  prize- 
ring  ;  and  a  perfectly  sympathetic  admiration  of  my 
researches  into  Romany.  One  day,  at  Kingston  Fair, 
as  I  wished  to  depart,  I  asked  Bill  the  way  to  the 
station.  "  I  will  go  with  you  and  show  you,"  he 
said.  But  knowing  that  he  had  business  in  the  fair 
I  declined  his  escort.  He  looked  at  me  as  if  hurt. 

"Does  tute  pen  mandy'd  chore  tute?"  (Do  you 
think  I  would  rob  you  or  pick  your  pockets  ?)  For 
he  believed  I  was  afraid  of  it.  I  knew  Bill  better.  I 
knew  that  he  was  perfectly  aware  that  I  was  about 
the  only  man  in  England  who  had  a  good  opinion 
of  him  in  any  way,  or  knew  what  good  there  was 
in  him.  When  afemme  incomprise,  a  woman  not  as 
yet  found  out,  discovers  at  last  the  man  who  is  so 


142  ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 

much  a  master  of  the  art  of  flattery  as  to  satisfy 
somewhat  her  inordinate  vanity,  she  is  generally 
grateful  enough  to  him  who  has  thus  gratified  her 
desires  to  refrain  from  speaking  ill  of  him,  and  abuse 
those  who  do,  especially  the  latter.  In  like  manner, 
Bill  Bowers,  who  was  every  whit  as  interesting  as 
any  femme  incomprise  in  Belgravia,  or  even  Russell 
Square,  believing  that  I  had  a  little  better  opinion 
of  him  than  anybody  else,  would  not  only  have  re- 
frained from  robbing  me,  but  have  proceeded  to  lam 
with  his  fists  anybody  else  who  would  have  done  so, 
— the  latter  proceeding  being,  from  his  point  of  view, 
only  a  light,  cheerful,  healthy,  and  invigorating  ex- 
ercise, so  that,  as  he  said,  and  as  I  believe  truthfully, 
"I'd  rather  be  walloped  than  not  fight."  Even  as 
my  friend  H.  had  rather  lose  than  not  play  "  farrer." 

This  was  a  very  pretty  little  country  fair  at  Cob- 
ham  ;  pleasant  and  purely  English.  It  was  very 
picturesque,  with  its  flags,  banners,  gayly  bedecked 
booths,  and  mammoth  placards,  there  being,  as  usual, 
no  lack  of  color  or  objects.  I  wonder  that  Mr.  Frith, 
who  has  given  with  such  idiomatic  genius  the  humors 
of  the  Derby,  has  never  painted  an  old-fashioned  ru- 
ral fair  like  this.  In  a  few  years  the  last  of  them 
will  have  been  closed,  and  the  last  gypsy  will  be  there 
to  look  on. 

There  was  a  pleasant  sight  in  the  afternoon,  when 
all  at  once,  as  it  seemed  to  me,  there  came  hundreds 
of  pretty,  rosy-cheeked  children  into  the  fair.  There 
were  twice  as  many  of  them  as  of  grown  people.  I 
think  that,  the  schools  being  over  for  the  day,  they 
had  been  sent  a-fairing  for  a  treat.  They  swarmed 
in  like  small  bee-angels,  just  escaped  from  some  upset 
celestial  hive  ;  they  crowded  around  the  booths,  buy- 


COBHAM  FAIR.  143 

ing  little  toys,  chattering,  bargaining,  and  laughing, 
when  my  eye  caught  theirs,  as  though  to  be  noticed 
was  the  very  best  joke  in  the  whole  world.  They 
soon  found  out  the  Sensation  of  the  Age,  and  the 
mammoth  steam  bicycle  was  forthwith  crowded  with 
the  happy  little  creatures,  raptured  in  all  the  glory 
of  a  ride.  The  cars  looked  like  baskets  full  of  roses. 
It  was  delightful  to  see  them :  at  first  like  grave  and 
stolid  little  Anglo-Saxons,  occupied  seriously  with  the 
new  Sensation  ;  then  here  and  there  beaming  with 
thawing  jollity ;  then  smiling  like  sudden  sun-gleams ; 
and  then  laughing,  until  all  were  in  one  grand  chorus, 
as  the  speed  became  greater,  and  the  organ  roared 
out  its  notes  as  rapidly  as  a  runaway  musical  locomo- 
tive, and  the  steam-engine  puffed  in  time,  until  a 
high-pressure  scream  told  that  the  penn'orth  of  fun 
was  up. 

As  we  went  home  in  the  twilight,  and  looked  back 
at  the  trees  and  roofs  of  the  village,  in  dark  silhouette 
against  the  gold-bronze  sky,  and  heard  from  afar  and 
fitfully  the  music  of  the  Great  Sensation  mingled  with 
the  beat  of  a  drum  and  the  shouts  of  the  crowd,  rising 
and  falling  with  the  wind,  I  felt  a  little  sad,  that  the 
age,  in  its  advancing  refinement,  is  setting  itself 
against  these  old-fashioned  merry-makings,  and  shrink- 
ing like  a  weakling  from  all  out-of-doors  festivals,  on 
the  plea  of  their  being  disorderly,  but  in  reality  be- 
cause they  are  believed  to  be  vulgar.  They  come 
down  to  us  from  rough  old  days  ;  but  they  are  relics 
of  a  time  when  life,  if  rough,  was  at  least  kind  and 
hearty.  We  admire  that  life  on  the  stage,  we  ape  it 
in  novels,  we  affect  admiration  and  appreciation  of 
its  rich  picturesqueness  and  vigorous  originality,  and 
we  lie  in  so  doing  ;  for  there  is  not  an  aesthetic  prig 


144  ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 

in  London  who  could  have  lived  an  hour  in  it.  Truly, 
I  should  like  to  know  what  Fransois  Villon  and  Chau- 
cer would  have  thought  of  some  of  their  modern  ador- 
ers, or  what  the  lioness  Fair-sinners  of  the  olden  time 
would  have  had  to  say  to  the  nervous  weaklings  who 
try  to  play  the  genial  blackguard  in  their  praise  !  It 
is  to  me  the  best  joke  of  the  age  that  those  who  now 
set  themselves  up  for  priests  of  the  old  faith  are  the 
men,  of  all  others,  whom  the  old  gods  would  have 
kicked,  cum  magnet  injuria,  out  of  the  temple.  When 
I  sit  by  Bill  Bowers,  as  he  baskets,  and  hear  the  bees 
buzz  about  his  marigolds,  or  in  Plato  Buckland's  van, 
or  with  a  few  hearty  and  true  men  of  London  town 
of  whom  I  wot,  then  I  know  that  the  old  spirit  liveth 
in  its  ashes ;  but  there  is  little  of  it,  I  trow,  among  its 
penny  prig-trumpeters. 


IV. 

THE  MIXED  FORTUNES. 

" Thus  spoke  the  king  to  the  great  Master: ' Thou  didst  bless  and 
ban  the  people ;  thou  didst  give  benison  and  curse,  luck  and  sorrow,  to 
the  evil  or  the  good.' 

"  And  the  Master  said,  '  It  may  be  so.' 

"  And  the  king  continued,  '  There  came  two  men,  and  one  was  good 
and  the  other  bad.  And  one  thou  didst  bless,  thinking  he  was  good ; 
but  he  was  wicked.  And  the  other  thou  didst  curse,  and  thought  him 
bad  ;  but  he  was  good.' 

"  The  Master  said,  'And  what  came  of  it  ?  ' 

"  The  king  answered,  '  All  evil  came  upon  the  good  man,  and  all 
happiness  to  the  bad/ 

"  And  the  Master  said,  '  I  write  letters,  but  I  am  not  the  messenger; 
I  hunt  the  deer,  but  I  am  not  the  cook;  I  plant  the  vine,  but  I  do  not 
pour  the  wine  to  the  guests ;  I  ordain  war,  yet  do  not  fight ;  I  send 
ships  forth  on  the  sea,  but  do  not  sail  them.  There  is  many  a  slip 
between  cup  and  lip,  as  the  chief  of  the  rebel  spirits  said  when  he 
was  thrown  out  of  heaven,  and  I  am  not  greater  nor  wiser  than  he 
was  before  he  fell.  Hast  thou  any  more  questions,  0  son  ?  " 

"  And  the  king  went  his  way." 

ONE  afternoon  I  was  walking  with  three  ladies. 
One  was  married,  one  was  a  young  widow,  and  one, 
no  longer  very  young,  had  not  as  yet  husbanded  her 
resources.  And  as  we  went  by  the  Thames,  conversa- 
tion turned  upon  many  things,  and  among  them  the 
mystery  of  the  future  and  mediums  ;  and  the  widow 
at  last  said  she  would  like  to  have  her  fortune  told. 

"You  need  not  go  far  to  have  it  done,"  I  said. 
"  There  is  a  gypsy  camp  not  a  mile  away,  and  in  it 
one  of  the  cleverest  fortune-tellers  in  England." 

"  I  am  almost  afraid  to  go,"  said  the  maiden  lady 
10 


146  ENGLISH  GYPSTES. 

"  It  seems  to  me  to  be  really  wrong  to  try  to  look 
into  the  awful  senvts  of  futurity.  One  can  never  be 
.in  as  to  what  a  gypsy  may  not  know.  It  's  all 
very  well,  I  dare  say,  to  declare  it 's  all  rubbish,  but 
then  you  know  you  never  can  tell  what  may  be  in  a 
rubbish-heap,  and  they  may  be  predicting  true  things 
all  the  time  while  they  think  they  're  humbugging 
you.  And  they  do  often  foretell  the  most  wonderful 
things ;  I  know  they  do.  My  aunt  was  told  that  she 
would  marry  a  man  who  would  cause  her  trouble, 
and,  sure  enough,  she  did ;  and  it  was  such  a  shame, 
she  was  such  a  sweet-tempered,  timid  woman,  and  he 
spent  half  her  immense  fortune.  Now  was  n't  that 
wonderful  ?  " 

It  would  be  a  curious  matter  for  those  who  like 
studying  statistics  and  chance  to  find  out  what  pro- 
portion in  England  of  sweet-tempered,  timid  women 
of  the  medium-middle  class,  in  newly-sprouted  fami- 
lies, with  immense  fortunes,  do  not  marry  men  who 
only  want  their  money.  Such  heiresses  are  the  nat- 
ural food  of  the  noble  shark  and  the  swell  sucker, 
sind  even  a  gypsy  knows  it,  and  can  read  them  at  a 
glance.  I  explained  this  to  the  lady  ;  but  she  knew 
what  she  knew,  and  would  not  know  otherwise. 

So  we  came  along  the  rippling  river,  watching  the 
>lartiiiLC  swallows  and  light  water-gnats,  as  the  sun 
sank  afar  into  the  tawny,  golden  west,  and  Night,  in 
Hearing  circles,  wove  her  shades  around  us.  We 
saw  the  little  tents,  like,  bee-hives,  —  one,  indeed,  not 
larger  than  the  hive  in  which  Tyll  Eulenspiegel  slept 
his  famous  nap,  and  in  which  he  was  carried  away  by 
the  thieves  who  mistook  him  for  honey  and  found  him 
vim-gar.  And  the  outposts,  or  advanced  pickets  of 
small,  brown,  black-eyed  elves,  were  tumbling  about 


THE  MIXED  FORTUNES.  147 

as  usual,  and  shouted  their  glad  greeting  ;  for  it  was 
only  the  day  before  that  I  had  come  down  with  two 
dozen  oranges,  which  by  chance  proved  to  be  just 
one  apiece  for  all  to  eat  except  for  little  Synfie  Cooper, 
who  saved  hers  up  for  her  father  when  he  should  re- 
turn. 

I  had  just  an  instant  in  which  to  give  the  gypsy 
sorceress  a  "  straight  tip,"  and  this  I  did,  saying  in 
Romany  that  one  of  the  ladies  was  married  and  one 
a  widow.  I  was  indeed  quite  sure  that  she  must 
know  the  married  lady  as  such,  since  she  had  lived 
near  at  hand,  within  a  mile,  for  months.  And  so, 
with  all  due  solemnity,  the  sorceress  went  to  her 
work. 

"  You  will  come  first,  my  lady,  if  you  please,"  she 
said  to  the  married  dame,  and  led  her  into  a  hedge- 
corner,  so  as  to  be  remote  from  public  view,  while  we 
waited  by  the  camp. 

The  hand  was  inspected,  and  properly  crossed  with 
a  shilling,  and  the  seeress  began  her  prediction. 

"  It 's  a  beautiful  hand,  my  lady,  and  there  's  luck 
in  it.  The  line  o'  life  runs  lovely  and  clear,  just  like 
a  smooth  river  from  sea  to  sea,  and  that  means  you  '11 
never  be  in  danger  before  you  die,  nor  troubled  with 
much  ill.  And  it 's  written  that  you  '11  have  another 
husband  very  soon." 

"  But  I  don't  want  another,"  said  the  lady. 

"  Ah,  my  dear  lady,  so  you  '11  say  till  you  get  him, 
but  when  he  comes  you  '11  be  glad  enough;  so  do  you 
just  get  the  first  one  out  of  your  head  as  soon  as 
you  can,  for  the  next  will  be  the  better  one.  And 
you  '11  cross  the  sea  and  travel  in  a  foreign  land,  and 
remember  what  I  told  you  to  the  end  of  your  life 
days." 


148  ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 

Then  the  widow  had  her  turn. 

"  This  is  a  lucky  hand,  and  little  need  you  had  to 
have  your  fortune  told.  You  've  been  well  married 
once,  and  once  is  enough  when  it 's  all  you  need. 
There  's  others  as  is  never  satisfied  and  wants  every- 
thing, but  you  've  had  the  best,  and  more  you  need  n't 
want,  though  there  '11  be  many  a  man  who  '11  be  in 
love  with  you.  Ay,  indeed,  there  's  fair  and  dark 
as  will  feel  the  favor  of  your  beautiful  eyes,  but  little 
good  will  it  do  them,  and  barons  and  lords  as  would 
kiss  the  ground  you  tread  on ;  and  no  wonder,  either, 
for  you  have  the  charm  which  nobody  can  tell  what 
it  is.  But  it  will  do  'em  no  good,  nevermore." 

*'  Then  I  'm  never  to  have  another  husband,"  said 
the  widow. 

"No,  my  lady.  He  that  you  married  was  the  best 
of  all,  and,  after  him,  you  '11  never  need  another  ;  and 
that  was  written  in  your  hand  when  you  were  born, 
and  it  will  be  your  fate,  forever  and  ever :  and  that 
is  the  gypsy's  production  over  the  future,  and  what 
she  lias  producted  will  come  true.  All  the  stars  in 
the  fermentation  of  heaven  can't  change  it.  But  if 
you  ar'n't  satisfied,  I  can  set  a  planet  for  you,  and  try 
the  cards,  which  comes  more  expensive,  for  I  never  do 
that  under  ten  shillings." 

There  was  a  comparing  of  notes  among  the  ladies 
and  much  laughter,  when  it  appeared  that  the  priest- 
ess of  the  hidden  spell,  in  her  working,  had  mixed  up 
the  oracles.  Jacob  had  manifestly  got  Esau's  blessing. 
It  w;  1  that  the  bonnes  fortunes  should  be  ex- 

changed, that  the  shillings  might  not  be  regarded  as 
lost,  and  all  this  was  explained  to  the  unmarried  lady. 
She  said  nothing,  but  in  due  time  was  also  dukkered, 
or  fortune-told.  With  the  same  mystery  she  was  con* 


THE  MIXED  FORTUNES. 


149 


ducted  to  the  secluded  corner  of  the  hedge,  and  a  very 
long,  low-murmuring  colloquy  ensued.  What  it  was 
we  never  knew,  but  the  lady  had  evidently  been 
greatly  impressed  and  awed.  All  that  she  would 
tell  was  that  she  had  heard  things  that  were  "  very 
remarkable,  which  she  was  sure  no  person  living 
could  have  known,"  and  in  fact  that  she  believed 
in  the  gypsy,  and 'even  the  blunder  as  to  the  mar- 
ried lady  and  the  widow,  and  all  my  assurances  that 
chiromancy  as  popularly  practiced  was  all  humbug, 
made  no  impression.  There  was  once  "  a  disciple 
in  Yabneh  "  who  gave  a  hundred  and  fifty  reasons 
to  prove  that  a  reptile  was  no  more  unclean  than 
any  other  animal.  But  in  those  days  people  had  not 
been  converted  to  the  law  of  turtle  soup  and  the  gos- 
p'el  of  Saint  Terrapin,  so  the  people  said  it  was  a  vain 
thing.  And  had  I  given  a  hundred  and  fifty  reasons 
to  this  lady,  they  would  have  all  been  vain  to  her,  for 
she  wished  to  believe ;  and  when  our  own  wishes  are 
served  up  unto  us  on  nice  brown  pieces  of  the  well- 
buttered  toast  of  flattery,  it  is  not  hard  to  induce  us 
to  devour  them. 

It  is  written  that  when  Ashmedai,  or  Asmodeus, 
the  chief  of  all  the  devils  of  mischief,  was  being  led 
a  captive  to  Solomon,  he  did  several  mysterious  things 
while  on  the  way,  among  others  bursting  into  ex- 
travagant laughter,  when  he  saw  a  magician  conjur- 
ing and  predicting.  On  being  questioned  by  Benaiah, 
the  son  of  Jehoiada,  why  he  had  seemed  so  much 
amused,  Ashmedai  answered  that  it  was  because  the 
seer  was  at  the  very  time  sitting  on  a  princely  treas- 
ure, and  he  did  not,  with  all  his  magic  and  promising 
tortune  to  others,  know  this.  Yet,  if  this  had  been 
told  *••<>  all  the  world,  the  conjurer's  business  would 


150  ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 

not  have  suffered.  Not  a  bit  of  it.  Entre  Jean, passe 
Jeannot :  one  comes  and  goes,  another  takes  his  place, 
and  the  poor  will  disappear  from  this  world  before  the 
too  credulous  shall  have  departed. 

It  was  on  the  afternoon  of  the  following  day  that 
I,  by  chance,  met  the  gypsy  with  a  female  friend, 
each  with  a  basket,  by  the  roadside,  in  a  lonely,  furzy 
place,  beyond  Walton. 

"You  are  a  nice  fortune-teller,  aren't  you  now?"  I 
said  to  her.  "  After  getting  a  tip,  which  made  it  all 
as  clear  as  day,  you  walk  straight  into  the  dark.  And 
here  you  promise  a  lady  two  husbands,  and  she  mar- 
ried already  ;  but  you  never  promised  me  two  wives, 
that  I  might  make  merry  withal.  And  then  to  tell 
a  widow  that  she  would  never  be  married  again  ! 
You  're  a  bori  clwvihani  [a  great  witch],  — indeed,  you 
aren't." 

uj?fo/e,"  said  the  gypsy,  with  a  droll  smile  and  a 
shrug,  —  I  think  I  can  see  it  now,  —  "the  dukkerin 
[prediction]  was  all  right,  but  I  pet  the  right  duk- 
<  on  the  wrong  ladies." 

And  the  Master  said,  "  I  write  letters,  but  I  am 
not  the  messenger."  His  orders,  like  the  gypsy's, 
had  been  all  right,  but  they  had  gone  to  the  wrong 
shop.  Thus,  in  all  ages,  those  who  affect  superior 
wisdom  and  foreknowledge  absolute  have  found  that 
a  great  practical  part  of  the  real  business  consisted 
in  the  plausible  explanation  of  failures.  The  great 
t  'anadiiin  weather  prophet  is  said  to  keep  two  clerks 
busy,  one  in  recording  his  predirlions,  the,  other  in 
explaining  their  failures;  \\liich  is  much  the  case  with 
the,  rain-doctors  in  Africa,  who  are  as  ingenious  and 
fortunate  in  explaining  a  miss  as  a  hit,  as,  indeed, 
they  need  be,  since  they  must,  in  case  of  error,  sul> 


THE  MIXED  FORTUNES. 


151 


mit  to  be  devoured  alive  by  ants,  —  insects  which  iu 
Africa  correspond  in  several  respects  to  editors  and 
critics,  particularly  the  stinging  kind.  -'Und  ist 
man  bei  der  Prophezeiung  angestellt,"  as  Heine  says; 
"  when  a  man  has  a  situation  in  a  prophecy-office," 
a  great  part  of  his  business  is  to  explain  to  the  cus- 
tomers why  it  is  that  so  many  of  them  draw  blanks, 
or  why  the  trains  of  fate  are  never  on  time. 


V. 

HAMPTON  RACES. 

ON  a  summer  day,  when  waking  dreams  softly  wave 
before  the  fancy,  it  is  pleasant  to  walk  in  the  noon- 
stillness  along  the  Thames,  for  then  we  pass  a  series 
of  pictures  forming  a  gallery  which  I  would  not  ex- 
change for  that  of  the  Louvre,  could  I  impress  them  as 
indelibly  upon  the  eye-memory  as  its  works  are  fixed 
on  canvas.  There  exists  in  all  of  us  a  spiritual  pho- 
tographic apparatus,  by  means  of  which  we  might 
retain  accurately  all  we  have  ever  seen,  and  bring 
out,  at  will,  the  pictures  from  the  pigeon-holes  of 
the  memory,  or  make  new  ones  as  vivid  as  aught  we 
see  in  dreams,  but  the  faculty  must  be  developed  in 
childhood.  So  surely. as  I  am  now  writing  this  will 
become,  at  some  future  day,  a  branch  of  education,  to 
be  developed  into  results  of  which  the  wildest  imagi 
nation  can  form  no  conception,  and  I  put  the  predic- 
tion on  record.  As  it  is,  I  am  sorry  that  I  was  never 
t ruined  to  this  half-thinking,  half-painting  art,  since, 
if  I  had  been,  I  should  have  left  for  distant  days  to 
come  some  charming  views  of  Surrey  as  it  appears  in 
this  decade. 

The  reedy  eyots  and  the  rising  hills ;  the  level  mead- 
ows and  the  little  villes,  with  their  antique  perpen- 
dicular Gothic  churches,  which  form  the  points  around 
which  they  have  clustered  for  centuries,  even  as  groups 
of  boats  in  the  river  are  tied  around  their  mooring- 


HAMPTON  RACES. 


153 


posts ;  the  bridges  and  trim  cottages  or  elegant  man- 
sions with  their  flower-bordered  grounds  sweeping 
down  to  the  water's  edge,  looking  like  rich  carpets 
with  new  baize  over  the  centre,  make  the  pictures 
of  which  I  speak,  varying  with  every  turn  of  the 
Thames;  while  the  river  itself  is,  at  this  season,  like 
a  continual  regatta,  with  many  kinds  of  boats,  pro- 
pelled by  stalwart  young  Englishmen  or  healthy, 
handsome  damsels,  of  every  rank,  the  better  class  by 
far  predominating.  There  is  a  disposition  among  the 
English  to  don  quaint  holiday  attire,  to  put  on  the 
picturesque,  and  go  to  the  very  limits  which  custom 
permits,  which  would  astonish  an  American.  Of  late 
years  this  is  becoming  the  case,  too,  in  Trans-Atlan- 
tis, but  it  has  always  been  usual  in  England,  to 
mark  the  fete  day  with  a  festive  dress,  to  wear  gay 
ribbons,  and  to  indulge  the  very  harmless  instinct  of 
youth  to  be  gallant  and  gay. 

I  had  started  one  morning  on  a  walk  by  the  Thames, 
when  I  met  a  friend,  who  asked,  — 

"  Are  n't  you  going  to-day  to  the  Hampton  races  ?  " 

"How  far  is  it?" 

"  Just  six  miles.     On  Molesy  Hurst." 

Six  miles,  and  I  had  only  six  shillings  in  my  pocket. 
I  had  some  curiosity  to  see  this  race,  which  is  run  on 
the  Molesy  Hurst,  famous  as  the  great  place  for  prize- 
fighting in  the  olden  time,  and  which  has  never  been 
able  to  raise  itself  to  respectability,  inasmuch  as  the 
local  chronicler  says  that  "  the  course  attracts  con- 
siderable and  not  very  reputable  gatherings."  In 
fact,  it  is  generally  spoken  of  as  the  Costermonger's 
race,  at  which  a  mere  welsher  is  a  comparatively 
respectable  character,  and  every  man  in  a  good  coat 
tt  swell.  I  was  nicely  attired,  by  chance,  for  the  oo 


154  I:\CLISH  GYPSIES. 

casion,  for  I  had  come  out,  thinking  of  a  ride,  in  a 
white  hat,  new  corduroy  pantaloons  arid  waistcoat, 
and  a  velveteen  coat,  which  dress  is  so  greatly  ad- 
mired by  the  gypsies  that  it  may  almost  be  regarded 
as  their  "  national  costume." 

There  was  certainly,  to  say  the  least,  a  rather  bour- 
geois tone  at  the  race,  and  gentility  was  conspicuous  by 
its  absence ;  but  I  did  not  find  it  so  outrageously  low 
as  I  hud  been  led  to  expect.  I  confess  that  I  was  not 
encouraged  to  attempt  to  increase  my  little  hoard  of 
silver  by  betting,  and  the  certainty  that  if  I  lost  I 
could  not  lunch  made  me  timid.  But  the  good  are 
never  alone  in  this  world,  and  I  found  friends  whom 
I  dreamed  not  of.  Leaving  the  crowd,  I  sought  the 
gypsy  vans,  and  by  one  of  these  was  old  Liz  Buck- 
land. 

*4A$'rt/v.s-/"//f  rye!  And  glad  I  am  to  see  you.  Why 
did  n't  you  come  down  into  Kent  to  see  the  hoppin'  ? 
Many  a  time  the  Romanys  says  they  expected  to  see 
their  ri/r.  there.  Just  the  other  night,  your  Coopers 
was  ji-lyin'  round  their  fire,  every  one  of  'em  in  a  new 
red  blanket,  lookin'  so  beautiful  as  the  light  shone  on 
'em,  and  I  says,  *  If  our  rye  was  to  see  you,  he  'd 
just  have  that  book  of  his  out,  and  take  all  your  pict- 
ures.' ' 

After  much  gossip  over  absent  friends,  I  said, — 

"  Well,  dye,  I  stand  a  shilling  for  beer,  and  that 's 
all  I  can  do  to-day,  for  I  've  come  out  with  only  shove 
trin-grushi." 

Liz  took  the  shilling,  looked  at  it  and  at  me  with 
;in  earnest  air,  and  shook  her  head. 

"  It  '11  never  do,  rye,  —  never.  A  gentleman  wants 
more  than  six  shillin's  to  see  a  race  through,  and  a 
regular  Romany  rye  like  you  ought  to  slap  down  his 


HAMPTON  RACES. 


155 


lovvo  with  the  best  of  'em  for  the  credit  of  his  people. 
And  if  you  want  a  bar  [a  pound]  or  two,  I  '11  lend 
you  the  money,  and  never  fear  about  your  pay- 
ment." 

It  was  kind  of  the  old  dye,  but  I  thought  that  I 
would  pull  through  on  my  five  shillings,  before  I  would 
draw  on  the  Romany  bank.  To  be  considered  with 
sincere  sympathy,  as  an  object  of  deserving  charity,  on 
the  lowest  race-ground  in  England,  and  to  be  offered 
eleemosynary  relief  by  a  gypsy,  was,  indeed,  touching 
the  hard  pan  of  humiliation.  I  went  my  way,  idly 
strolling  about,  mingling  affably  with  all  orders,  for 
my  watch  was  at  home.  Vacuus  viator  cantabit.  As  I 
stood  by  a  fence,  I  heard  a  gentlemanly-looking  young 
man,  who  was  evidently  a  superior  pickpocket,  or  "  a 
regular  fly  gonoff,"  say  to  a  friend,  — 

"  She  's  on  the  ground,  —  a  great  woman  among 
the  gypsies.  What  do  they  call  her  ?  " 

"  Mrs.  Lee." 

"  Yes.     A  swell  Romany  she  is." 

Whenever  one  hears  an  Englishman,  not  a  scholar, 
speak  of  gypsies  as  "  Romany,"  he  may  be  sure  that 
man  is  rather  more  on  the  loose  than  becomes  a 
steady  citizen,  and  that  he  walks  in  ways  which,  if 
not  of  darkness,  are  at  least  in  a  shady  demi-jour, 
with  a  gentle  down  grade.  I  do  not  think  there  was 
anybody  on  the  race-ground  who  was  not  familiar 
with  the  older  word. 

It  began  to  rain,  and  before  long  my  new  velveteen 
coat  was  very  wet.  I  looked  among  the  booths  for 
one  where  I  might  dry  myself  and  get  something  to 
eat,  and,  entering  the  largest,  was  struck  by  the  ap- 
pearance of  the  landlady.  She  was  a  young  and 
decidedly  pretty  woman,  nicely  dressed,  and  was  un- 


156  KXGLISH  GYPSIES. 

mistakably  gypsy.  I  had  never  seen  her  before,  but 
I  knew  who  she  was  by  a  description  I  had  heard. 
So  I  went  up  to  the  bar  and  spoke  :  — 

"  How  are  you,  Agnes  ?  " 

"  Bloomin'.     What  will  you  have,  sir  ?  " 

"  Dui  curro  levinor,  yeckfor  tute,  yeckfor  mandy" 
(Two  glasses  for  ale,  —  one  for  you,  one  for  me.) 

She  looked  up  with  a  quick  glance  and  a  wonder- 
ing smile,  and  then  said,  — 

"  You  must  be  the  Romany  rye  of  the  Coopers. 
I  'm  glad  to  see  you.  Bless  me,  how  wet  you  are. 
Go  to  the  fire  and  dry  yourself.  Here,  Bill,  I  say ! 
Attend  to  this  gentleman." 

There  was  a  tremendous  roaring  fire  at  the  farther 
end  of  the  booth,  at  which  were  pieces  of  meat,  so 
enormous  as  to  suggest  a  giant's  roast  or  a  political 
barbecue  rather  than  a  kitchen.  I  glanced  with 
some  interest  at  Bill,  who  came  to  aid  me.  In  all 
my  life  I  never  saw  a  man  who  looked  so  thoroughly 
the  regular  English  bull-dog  bruiser  of  the  lowest 
type,  but  battered  and  worn  out.  His  nose,  by  oft- 
ro pouted  pummeling,  had  gradually  subsided  almost 
to  a  level  with  his  other  features,  just  as  an  ancient 
British  grave  subsides,  under  the  pelting  storms  of 
centuries,  into  equality  with  the  plain.  His  eyes 
looked  out  from  under  their  bristly  eaves  like  sleepy 
wild-cats  from  a  pig-pen,  and  his  physique  was  tre- 
mendous. He  noticed  my  look  of  curiosity. 

"  Old  Bruisin'  Bill,  your  honor.  I  was  well  knowed 
in  the  prize-ring  once.  Been  in  the  newspapers.  Now, 
you  mus'  n't  dry  your  coat  that  way  !  New  welwe- 
to«-n  ought  always  to  be  wiped  afore  you  dry  it.  I 
was  a  gamekeeper  myself  for  six  years,  an'  wore  it 
all  that  time  nice  and  proper,  I  did,  and  know  how 


HAMPTON  RACES.  157 

May  be  you  've  got  a  thrip'ny  bit  for  old  Bill. 
Thanky." 

I  will  do  Mrs.  Agnes  Wynn  the  credit  to  say  that 
in  her  booth  the  best  and  most  abundant  meal  that 
I  ever,  saw  for  the  price  in  England  was  given  for 
eighteen  pence.  Fed  and  dried,  I  was  talking  with 
her,  when  there  came  up  a  pretty  boy  of  ten,  so 
neat  and  well  dressed  and  altogether  so  nice  that  he 
might  have  passed  current  for  a  gentleman's  son  any- 
where. 

"  Well,  Agnes.  You  're  Wynn  by  name  and  win- 
some by  nature,  and  all  the  best  you  have  has  gone 
into  that  boy.  They  say  you  gypsies  used  to  steal 
children.  I  think  it 's  time  to  turn  the  tables,  and 
when  I  take  the  game  up  I  '11  begin  by  stealing  your 
cliavo" 

Mrs.  Wynn  looked  pleased.  "  He  is  a  good  boy, 
as  good  as  he  looks,  and  he  goes  to  school,  and  don't 
keep  low  company." 

Here  two  or  three  octoroon,  duodecaroon,  or  vigin- 
tiroon  Romany  female  friends  of  the  landlady  came 
up  to  be  introduced  to  me,  and  of  course  to  take 
something  at  my  expense  for  the  good  of  the  house. 
This  they  did  in  the  manner  specially  favored  by 
gypsies;  that  is  to  say,  a  quart  of  ale,  being  ordered, 
was  offered  first  to  me,  in  honor  of  my  social  posi- 
tion, and  then  passed  about  from  hand  to  hand.  This 
rite  accomplished,  I  went  forth  to  view  the  race. 
The  sun  had  begun  to  shine  again,  the  damp  flags 
and  streamers  had  dried  themselves  in  its  cheering 
rays,  even  as  I  had  renewed  myself  at  Dame  Wynn's 
fire,  and  I  crossed  the  race-course.  The  scene  was 
lively,  picturesque,  and  thoroughly  English.  There 
are  certain  pleasures  and  pursuits  which,  however 


158  ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 

they  may  be  perfected  in  other  countries,  always 
seem  to  belong  especially  to  England,  and  chief 
among  these  is  the  turf.  As  a  fresh  start  was  made, 
as  the  spectators  rushed  to  the  ropes,  roaring  with 
excitement,  and  the  horses  swept  by  amid  hurrahs, 
I  could  realize  the  sympathetic  feeling  which  had 
been  developed  in  all  present  by  ancient  familiarity 
and  many  associations  with  such  scenes.  Whatever 
the  moral  value  of  these  may  be,  it  is  certain  that 
anything  so  racy  with  local  color  and  so  distinctly 
fixed  in  popular  affection  as  the  race  will  always  ap- 
peal to  the  artist  and  the  student  of  national  scenes. 

I  found  Old  Liz  lounging  with  Old  Dick,  her  hus- 
band, on  the  other  side.  There  was  a  canvas  screen, 
eight  feet  high,  stretched  as  a  background  to  stop 
the  sticks  hurled  by  the  players  at  "  coker-nuts," 
while  the,  nuts  themselves,  each  resting  on  a  stick 
live  feet  high,  looked  like  disconsolate  and  starved 
.  waiting  to  be  cruelly  treated.  In  company 
with  the  old  couple  was  a  commanding-looking,  eagle- 
eyed  Romany  woman,  in  whom  I  at  once  recognized 
the  remarkable  gypsy  spoken  of  by  the  pickpocket. 

"  My  name  is  Lee,"  she  said,  in  answer  to  my 
greeting.  u  What  is  yours  ?  " 

"Leland." 

"  Yes,  you  have  added  land  to  the  lee.  You  are 
luckier  than  I  am.  I'm  a  Lee  without  land." 

As  she  spoke  she  looked  like  an  ideal  Meg  Mer- 
rilies,  and  I  wished  I  had  her  picture.  It  was  very 
strange  that  I  made  the  wish  at  that  instant,  for  just 
then  she  was  within  an  ace  of  having  it  taken,  and 
therefore  arose  and  went  away  to  avoid  it.  An  itin- 
erant photographer,  seeing  me  talking  with  the  gyp- 
was  attempting,  though  I  knew  it  not,  to  take 


HAMPTON  RACES. 


159 


the  group.  But  the  keen  eye  of  the  Romany  saw  ifc 
all,  and  she  went  her  way,  because  she  was  of  the 
real  old  kind,  who  believe  it  is  unlucky  to  have  their 
portraits  taken.  I  used  to  think  that  this  aversion 
was  of  the  same  kind  as  that  which  many  good  men 
evince  in  a  marked  manner  when  requested  by  the 
police  to  sit  for  their  photographs  for  the  rogues'  gal- 
lery. But  here  I  did  the  gypsies  great  injustice  ;  for 
they  will  allow  their  likenesses  to  be  taken  if  you  will 
give  them  a  shoe-string.  That  this  old  superstition 
relative  to  the  binding  and  loosing  of  ill-luck  by  the 
shoe-string  should  exist  in  this  connection  is  of  it- 
self curious.  In  the  earliest  times  the  shoe-latchet 
brought  luck,  just  as  the  shoe  itself  did,  especially 
when  filled  with  corn  or  rice,  and  thrown  af teethe 
bride.  It  is  a  great  pity  that  the  ignorant  Gentiles, 
who  are  so  careful  to  do  this  at  every  wedding,  do 
not  know  that  it  is  all  in  vain  unless  they  cry  aloud 
in  Hebrew,  "Peru  urpJiu ! " l  with  all  their  might 
when  the  shoe  is  cast,  and  that  the  shoe  should  be 
filled  with  rice. 

She  went  away,  and  in  a  few  minutes  the  photog- 
rapher came  in  great  glee  to  show  a  picture  which  he 
had  taken. 

"  'Ere  you  are,  sir.  An  elegant  photograph,  sur- 
roundin'  sentimental  scenery  and  horiental  coker- 
nuts  thrown  in,  —  all  for  a  diininitive  little  shil- 
lin'." 

"  Now  that  time  you  missed  it,"  I  said ;  "  for  on 
my  honor  as  a  gentleman,  I  have  only  ninepence  in 
all  my  pockets." 

"  A  gent  like  you  with  only  ninepence  !  "  said  the 
artist. 

1  Peru  urphu  !  "  Increase  and  multiply  ! "  Vide  Bodenschatz 
Kirchliche  Verfassung  der  Juden,  part  IV.  ch.  4,  sect.  2. 


160  ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 

"  If  he  lias  n't  got  money  in  his  pocket  now,"  said 
Old  Li/,  speaking  up  in  my  defense,  "he  has  plenty 
at  home,  lie  has  given  pounds  and  pounds  to  us 
gypsies." 

"Dovo's  a  huckdben"  I  said  to  her  in  Romany. 
"  Mandy  kekker  delled  tute  kumin  a  trin-grmlii" 
(That  is  untrue.  I  never  gave  you  more  than  a 
shilling.) 

"  Anyhow,"  said  Liz,  "  ninepence  is  enough  for 
it."  And  the  man,  assenting,  gave  it  to  me.  It  was 
a  very  good  picture,  and  I  have  since  had  several 
copies  taken  of  it. 

"Yes,  ?•//</,''  said  Old  Liz,  when  I  regret  d-d  the 
absence  of  my  Lady  Lee,  and  talked  with  her  about 
Bhoe-8tringS  ;md  old  shoes,  and  how  necessary  it  was 
to  cry  out  "  Pi-ru.  ur/iJtu  /"  when  you  throw  (hem, — 

.      That's   the  way  tlie   ( Jorgis  always   half 
thin  see  Vm  get  a  horse-shoe  oil'  the  r< 

and    what   do    they   do  with    it  I      Goes   like,    dinmii 
3  and  nails   it,   up   with   the   j/ints  down,  which, 
well   In-known,  brings  all    the   bad   luck  th- 
flyiif  in   the   air   into   the   house,  and   taders    chovihfi- 
nees  [draws  witches]  like   ::  !  does    rats.      Now 

common  sense  ought  to  teach  that  the  shoe  ought  to 
be  put  like  horns,  with  the  p'ints  up.  For  if  it's 
lucky  to  put  real  horns  up,  of  course  the  horse-shoe 
goes  the  same  drom  [road].  And  it's  lucky  to  pick 
up  a  ivd  string  in  the,  morning,  —  yes,  or  at  any 
time;  l»ut  it's  sure  love  from  a  girl  if  you  do, — 
specially  silk.  And  if  so  be  she  gives  you  a  red 
htring  or  cord,  or  a  strip  of  red  stuff,  that  means 
ihe  '11  be  bound  to  you  and  loves  you." 


VI. 

STREET  SKETCHES. 

LONDON,  during  hot  weather,  after  the  close  of 
the  wise  season,  suggests  to  the  upper  ten  thousand, 
and  to  the  lower  twenty  thousand  who  reflect  their 
ways,  and  to  the  lowest  millions  who  minister  to  them 
all,  a  scene  of  doleful  dullness.  I  call  the  time  which 
has  passed  wise,  because  that  which  succeeds  is  uni- 
versally known  as  the  silly  season.  Then  the  editors 
in  town  have  recourse  to  the  American  newspapers  for 
amusing  murders,  while  their  rural  brethren  invent 
great  gooseberries.  Then  the  sea-serpent  again  lifts 
his  awful  head.  I  am  always  glad  when  this  ster- 
ling inheritance  of  the  Northern  races  reappears ;  for 
while  we  have  him  I  know  that  the  capacity  for  swal- 
lowing a  big  bouncer,  or  for  inventing  one,  is  not  lost. 
He  is  characteristic  of  a  fine,  bold  race.  Long  may 
he  wave !  It  is  true  that  we  cannot  lie  as  gloriously 
as  our  ancestors  did  about  him.  When  the  great 
news-dealer  of  Norse  times  had  no  home-news  he  took 
his  lyre,  and  either  spun  a  yarn  about  Vinland  such 
as  would  smash  the  "  Telegraph,"  or  else  sung  about 
"  that  sea-snake  tremendous  curled,  whose  girth  en- 
circles half  the  world."  It  is  wonderful,  it  is  awful, 
to  consider  how  true  we  remain  to  the  traditions  of 
the  older  time.  The  French  boast  that  they  invented 
the  canard.  Let  them  boast.  They  also  invented 
the  shirt-collar ;  but  hoary  legends  say  that  an  Eng- 


162  ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 

lishman  invented  the  shirt  for  it,  as  well  as  the  art  of 
washing  it.  What  the  shirt  is  to  the  collar,  that  is 
the  glorious,  tough  old  Northern  zaga,  or  maritime- 
Bpnn  yarn,  to  the  canard,  or  duck.  The  yarn  will 
wash  ;  it  passes  into  myth  and  history  ;  it  fits  ex- 
actly, because  it  was  made  to  order  ;  its  age  and  glory 
illustrate  the  survival  of  the  fittest. 

I  have,  during  three  or  four  summers,  remained  a 
month  in  London  after  the  family  had  taken  flight  to 
the  sea-side.  I  stayed  to  finish  books  promised  for 
the  autumn.  It  is  true  that  nearly  four  million  of 
people  remain  in  London  during  the  later  summer ; 
but  it  is  wonderful  what  an  influence  the  absence  of  a 
few  exerts  on  them  and  on  the  town.  Then  you  realize 
by  the  long  lines  of  idle  vehicles  in  the  ranks  how  few 
people  in  this  world  can  afford  a  cab  ;  then  you  find 
out  how  scanty  is  the  number  of  those  who  buy  goods 
at  the  really  excellent  shops ;  and  then  you  may  finally 
find  out  by  satisfactory  experience,  if  you  are  inclined, 
to  grumble  at  your  lot  in  life  or  your  fortune,  how 
much  better  off  you  are  than  ninety-nine  in  a  hun- 
dred of  your  fellow-murmurers  at  fate. 

It  was  my  wont  to  walk  out  in  the  cool  of  the 
evening,  to  smoke  my  cigar  in  Regent's  Park,  seated 
on  a  bench,  watching  the  children  as  they  played 
about  the  clock-and-bull  fountain,  —  for  it  embraces 
these  objects  among  its  adornments,  —  presented  by 
Cowasie  Jehanguire,  who  added  to  these  magnificent 
Persian  names  the  prosaic  English  postscript  of  Ready 
Money.  In  this  his  name  sets  forth  the  history  of 
his  Parsee  people,  who,  from  being  heroic  Ghebers, 
have  come  down  to  being  bankers,  who  can  "do"  any 
Jew,  and  who  might  possibly  tackle  a  Yankee  so  long 
as  they  kept  out  of  New  Jersey.  One  evening  I 


STREET  SKETCHES. 


163 


walked  outside  of  the  Park,  passing  by  the  Gloucester 
Bridge  to  a  little  walk  or  boulevard,  where  there  are 
a  few  benches.  I  was  in  deep  moon-shadow,  formed 
by  the  trees ;  only  the  ends  of  my  boots  shone  like  eyes 
in  the  moonlight  as  I  put  them  out.  After  a  while 
I  saw  a  nice-looking  young  girl,  of  the  humble-de- 
cent class,  seated  by  me,  and  with  her  I  entered  into 
casual  conversation.  On  the  bench  behind  us  were 
two  young  Italians,  conversing  in  strongly  marked 
Florentine  dialect.  They  evidently  thought  that  no 
one  could  understand  them  ;  as  they  became  more  in- 
terested they  spoke  more  distinctly,  letting  out  se- 
crets which  I  by  no  means  wished  to  hear. 

At  that  instant  I  recalled  the  famous  story  of  Prince 
Bismarck  and  the  Esthonian  young  ladies  and  the 
watch-key.  I  whispered  to  the  girl,  — 

"  When  I  say  something  to  you  in  a  language 
which  you  do  not  understand,  answer  '  Si '  as  dis 
tinctly  as  you  can." 

The  damsel  was  quick  to  understand.  An  instant 
after  I  said,  — 

"  Ha  veduto  il  mio  'havallo  la  sera  ?  " 

"i&V 

There  was  a  dead  silence,  and  then  a  rise  and  a 
rush.  My  young  friend  rolled  her  eyes  up  at  me, 
but  said  nothing.  The  Italians  had  departed  with 
their  awful  mysteries.  Then  there  came  by  a  man 
who  looked  much  worse.  He  was  a  truculent,  un- 
tamable rough,  evidently  inspired  with  gin.  At  a 
glance  I  saw  by  the  manner  in  which  he  carried  his 
coat  that  he  was  a  traveler,  or  one  who  lived  on  the 
roads.  Seeing  me  he  stopped,  and  said,  grimly,  — 

"  Do  you  love  your  Jesus  ?  " 

This  is  certainly  a  pious  question ;  but  it  was  lit- 


164  ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 

uttered  in  a  tone  which  intimated  that  if  I  did  not 
answer  it  affirmatively  I  might  expect  anything  but 
Christian  treatment.  I  knew  why  the  man  uttered 
it.  He  had  just  come  by  an  open-air  preaching  in 
the  Park,  and  the  phrase  had,  moreover,  been  recently 
chalked  and  stenciled  by  numerous  zealous  and  busy 
nonconformists  all  over  northwestern  London.  I 
smiled,  and  said,  quietly,  — 

"  Pal,  mor  rakker  sd  drovdn.  Jd  pukenus  on  the 
drum.'1  (Don't  talk  so  loud,  brother.  Go  away 
quietly.") 

The  man's  whole  manner  changed.  As  if  quite 
sober,  he  said, — 

"  Mang  your  shunaben,  rye.  But  tute  jins  chom- 
any.  KusJiti  ratti!"  (Beg  your  pardon,  sir.  But 
you  do  know  a  thing  or  two.  Good-night !) 

"  I  was  awfully  frightened,"  said  the  young  girl, 
as  the  traveler  departed.  "  I  'm  sure  he  meant  to 
pitch  into  us.  But  what  a  wonderful  way  you  have, 
sir,  of  sending  people  away  !  I  was  n't  so  much  as- 
tonished when  you  got  rid  of  the  Italians.  I  suppose 
ladies  and  gentlemen  know  Italian,  or  else  they 
would  n't  go  to  the  opera.  But  this  man  was  a  com- 
mon, bad  English  tramp;  yet  I'm  sure  he  spoke  to 
you  in  some  kind  of  strange  language,  and  you  said 
something  to  him  that  changed  him  into  as  peaceable 
as  could  be.  What  was  it  ?  " 

"It  was  gypsy,  young  lady, — what  the  gypsies 
talk  among  themselves." 

"  Do  you  know,  sir,  I  think  you  're  the  most  mys- 
berious  gentleman  I  ever  met." 

"  Very  likely.     Good-night." 

"Goodnight,  sir." 


STREET  SKETCHES.  165 

I  was  walking  with  my  friend  the  Palmer,  one  aft- 
ernoon in  June,  in  one  of  the  several  squares  which 
lie  to  the  west  of  the  British  Museum.  As  we  went 
I  saw  a  singular-looking,  slightly-built  man,  lounging 
at  a  corner.  He  was  wretchedly  clad,  and  appeared 
to  be  selling  some  rudely-made,  but  curious  contriv- 
ances of  notched  sticks,  intended  to  contain  flower- 
pots. He  also  had  flower-holders  made  of  twisted 
copper  wire.  But  the  greatest  curiosity  was  the  man 
himself.  He  had  such  a  wild,  wasted,  wistful  ex- 
pression, a  face  marked  with  a  life  of  almost  uncon- 
scious misery.  And  most  palpable  in  it  was  the  un- 
rest, which  spoke  of  an  endless  struggle  with  life,  and 
had  ended  by  goading  him  into  incessant  wandering. 
I  cannot  imagine  what  people  can  be  made  of  who 
can  look  at  such  men  without  emotion. 

"  That  is  a  gypsy,"  I  said  to  the  Palmer.  "  SarisTian^ 
pal!" 

The  wanderer  seemed  to  be  greatly  pleased  to 
hear  Romany.  He  declared  that  he  was  in  the  habit 
of  talking  it  so  much  to  himself  when  alone  that  his 
ordinary  name  was  Romany  Dick. 

"  But  if  you  come  down  to  the  Potteries,  and  want  to 
find  me,  you  mus'n't  ask  for  Romany  Dick,  but  Divius 
Dick."  "  That  means  Wild  Dick."  «  Yes."  "  And 
why?"  Because  I  wander  about  so,  and  can  never 
stay  more  than  a  night  in  any  one  place.  I  can't 
help  it.  I  must  keep  going."  He  said  this  with  that 
wistful,  sad  expression,  a  yearning  as  for  something 
which  he  had  never  comprehended.  Was  it  rest  ? 

"  And  so  I  rakker  Romany  [talk  gypsy  to  myself], 
when  I  'm  alone  of  a  night,  when  the  wind  blows. 
It's  better  company  than  talkin*  Gorginess.  More 
sociable.  He  says  —  no  —  Jsay  more  sensible  things 


166  ENGLISH   GYPSIES. 

Romaneskas  than  in  English.  You  understand  me  ?  " 
he  exclaimed  suddenly,  with  the  same  wistful  stare. 

"  Perfectly.  It 's  quite  reasonable.  It  must  be 
like  having  two  heads  instead  of  one,  and  being  twice 
as  knowing  as  anybody  else." 

"  Yes,  that 's  it.     But  everybody  don't  know  it." 

"  What  do  you  ask  for  one  of  those  flower-stands, 
Dick?" 

"  A  shillin',  sir." 

"  Well,  here  is  my  name  and  where  I  live,  on  an 
envelope.  And  here  are  two  shillings.  But  if  you 
chore  mandy  [cheat  me]  and  don't  leave  it  at  the 
house,  I  '11  look  you  up  in  the  Potteries,  and  koor  tute 
[whip  you]. 

He  looked  at  me  very  seriously.  "  Ah,  yes.  You 
could  Jcoor  me  kennd  [whip  me  now].  But  you 
couldn't  have  kooredmy  dadas  [whipped  my  father]. 
Leastways  not  afore  he  got  his  leg  broken  fightin' 
Lancaster  Sam.  You  must  have  heard  of  my  father,  — 
Single-stick  Dick.  But  if  your  're  comin'  down  to  the 
Potteries,  don't  come  next  Sunday.  Come  Sunday 
three  weeks.  My  brother  is  star  do  kennd  for  chorin 
a  gry  [in  prison  for  horse-stealing].  In  three  weeks 
he  '11  be  let  out,  and  we  're  goin'  to  have  a  great  fam- 
ily party  to  welcome  him,  and  we  '11  be  glad  to  see 
you.  Do  come." 

The  flower-stand  was  faithfully  delivered,  but  an- 
other engagement  prevented  an  acceptance  of  the 
invitation,  and  I  have  never  seen  Dick  since. 

I  was  walking  along  Marylebone  Road,  which  al- 
ways seems  to  be  a  worn  and  wind-beaten  street, 
very  pretty  once,  and  now  repenting  it;  when  just 
beyond  Baker  Street  station  I  saw  a  gypsy  van 


STREET  SKETCHES.  167 

hung  all  round  with  baskets  and  wooden  -  ware. 
Smoke  issued  from  its  pipe,  and  it  went  along  smok- 
ing like  any  careless  pedestrian.  It  always  seems 
strange  to  think  of  a  family  being  thus  conveyed 
with  its  dinner  cooking,  the  children  playing  about 
the  stove,  over  rural  roads,  past  common  and  gorse 
and  hedge,  in  and  out  of  villages,  and  through  Great 
Babylon  itself,  as  if  the  family  had  a  pied  d  terre, 
and  were  as  secluded  all  the  time  as  though  they 
lived  in  Little  Pedlington  or  Tinnecum.  For  they 
have  just  the  same  narrow  range  of  gossip,  and  just 
the  same  set  of  friends,  though  the  set  are  always  on 
the  move.  Traveling  does  not  make  a  cosmopolite. 

By  the  van  strolled  the  lord  and  master,  with  his 
wife.  I  accosted  him. 

44  Sarishan  ?  " 

"  Sarishan  rye  !  " 

"  Did  you  ever  see  me  before  ?  Do  you  know 
me?" 

"  No,  sir." 

"  I  'm  sorry  for  that.  I  have  a  nice  velveteen  coat 
which  I  have  been  keeping  for  your  father.  How  's 
your  brother  Frank  ?  Traveling  about  Kingston,  I 
suppose.  As  usual.  But  I  don't  care  about  trusting 
the  coat  to  anybody  who  don't  know  me." 

"  I  '11  take  it  to  him,  safe  enough,  sir." 

"  Yes,  I  dare  say.  On  your  back.  And  wear  it 
yourself  six  months  before  you  see  him." 

Up  spoke  his  wife :  "  That  he  shan't.  I  '11  take 
good  care  that  the  pooro  mush  [the  old  man]  gets  it 
all  right,  in  a  week." 

"  Well,  dye,  I  can  trust  you.  You  remember  me. 
And,  Anselo,  here  is  my  address.  Come  to  the 
house  in  half  an  hour." 


168  ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 

In  half  an  hour  the  housekeeper,  said  with  a  quiet 
Bmile,  — 

"  If  you  please,  sir,  there  's  a  gentleman  —  a  gypsy 
gentleman  —  wishes  to  see  you." 

It  is  an  English  theory  that  the  master  can  have 
no  "  visitors  "  who  are  not  gentlemen.  I  must  ad- 
mit that  Anselo's  dress  was  not  what  could  be  called 
gentlemanly.  From  his  hat  to  his  stout  shoes  he 
looked  the  impenitent  gypsy  and  sinful  poacher,  un- 
affected and  natural.  There  was  a  cutaway,  sport- 
ing look  about  his  coat  which  indicated  that  he  had 
grown  to  it  from  boyhood  "  in  woodis  grene."  He 
held  a  heavy-handled  whip,  a  regular  Romany  tchupni 
or  chuckni,  which  Mr.  Borrow  thinks  gave  rise  to  the 
word  "jockey."  I  thought  the  same  once,  but  have 
changed  my  mind,  for  there  were  "  jockeys "  in 
England  before  gypsies.  Altogether,  Anselo  (which 
comes  from  Wenceslas)  was  a  determined  and  vigorous 
specimen  of  an  old-fashioned  English  gypsy,  a  type 
which,  with  all  its  faults,  is  not  wanting  in  sundry 
manly  virtues. 

I  knew  that  Anselo  rarely  entered  any  houses  save 
ale-houses,  and  that  he  had  probably  never  before 
been  in  a  study  full  of  books,  arms,  and  bric-a-brac. 
And  he  knew  that  I  was  aware  of  it.  Now,  if  he  had 
been  more  of  a  fool,  like  a  red  Indian  or  an  old- 
fashioned  fop,  he  would  have  affected  a  stoical  indif- 
ference, for  fear  of  showing  his  ignorance.  As  it  was, 
he  sat  down  in  an  arm-chair,  glanced  about  him,  and 
said  just  the  right  thing. 

"  It  must  be  a  pleasant  thing,  at  the  end  of  the 
day,  after  one  has  been  running  about,  to  come  home 
to  such  a  room  as  this,  so  full  of  fine  things,  and 
sit  down  in  such  a  comfortable  chair."  "Will  I  have 


STREET  SKETCHES. 


169 


a  glass  of  old  ale  ?  Yes,  I  thank  you."  "  That  is 
Tcushto  levinor  [good  ale].  I  never  tasted  better." 
"  Would  I  rather  have  wine  or  spirits  ?  No,  I  thank 
you  ;  such  ale  as  this  is  fit  for  a  king." 

Here  Anselo's  keen  eye  suddenly  rested  on  some- 
thing which  he  understood. 

44  What  a  beautiful  little  rifle  !  That 's  what  I  call 
a  rinkno  yag-enyree  [pretty  gun]." 

44  Has  it  been  a  wafedo  wen  [hard  winter],  An- 
eelo?" 

44  It  has  been  a  dreadful  winter,  sir.  We  have 
been  hard  put  to  it  sometimes  for  food.  It 's  dread- 
ful to  think  of.  I  've  acti'lly  seen  the  time  when  I 
was  almost  desperated,  and  if  I  'd  had  such  a  gun  as 
that  I  'm  afraid,  if  I  'd  been  tempted,  I  could  a-found 
it  in  my  heart  to  knock  over  a  pheasant." 

I  looked  sympathetically  at  Anselo.  The  idea  of 
his  having  been  brought  to  the  very  brink  of  such  a 
terrible  temptation  and  awful  crime  was  touching. 
He  met  the  glance  with  the  expression  of  a  good  man, 
who  had  done  no  more  than  his  duty,  closed  his  eyes, 
and  softly  shook  his  head.  Then  he  took  another 
glass  of  ale,  as  if  the  memory  of  the  pheasants  or 
something  connected  with  the  subject  had  been  too 
much  for  him,  and  spoke  :  — 

"  I  came  here  on  my  horse.  But  he  's  an  ugly  old 
white  punch.  So  as  not  to  discredit  you,  I  left  him 
standing  before  a  gentleman's  house,  two  doors  off." 

Here  Anselo  paused.  I  acknowledged  this  touch- 
ing act  of  thoughtful  delicacy  by  raising  my  glass. 
He  drank  again,  then  resumed  :  — 

48  But  I  feel  uneasy  about  leaving  a  horse  by  him- 
self in  the  streets  of  London.  He  '11  stand  like  a 
driven  nail  wherever  you  put  him  —  but  there's  al- 
ways plenty  of  claw-hammers  to  draw  such  nails." 


170  ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 

"  Don't  be  afraid,  Anselo.  The  park-keeper  will 
not  let  anybody  take  him  through  the  gates.  I  '11 
pay  for  him  if  he  goes." 

But  visions  of  a  stolen  horse  seemed  to  haunt  An- 
selo. One  would  have  thought  that  something  of  the 
kind  had  been  familiar  to  him.  So  I  sent  for  the 
velveteen  coat,  and,  folding  it  on  his  arm,  he  mounted 
the  old  white  horse,  while  waving  an  adieu  with  the 
heavy-handled  whip,  rode  away  in  the  mist,  and  was 
seen  no  more. 

Farewell,  farewell,  thou  old  brown  velveteen !  I 
had  thee  first  in  by-gone  years,  afar,  hunting  fero- 
cious t'ox  and  horrid  hare,  near  Brighton,  on  the 
Downs,  and  wore  thee  well  on  many  a  sketching  tour 
to  churches  old  and  castles  dark  or  gray,  when  win- 
ter went  with  all  his  raines  wete.  Farewell,  my  coat, 
and  benedicite!  I  bore  thee  over  France  unto  Mar- 
seilles, and  on  the  steamer  where  we  took  aboard  tw 
hundred  Pavnim  pilgrims  of  Mahouml.  Farewell, 
my  coat,  and  benedicite!  Thou  wert  in  Napl- 
great  Virgil's  tomb,  and  borest  dust  from  Posilippo's 
grot,  and  hast  boon  wetted  by  the  dainty  spray  from 
bays  and  shoals  of  old  Etrurian  name.  Farewell,  my 
coat,  and  benedicite !  And  thou  wert  in  the  old 
Egyptian  realm:  I  had  thee  on  that  morning  'neath 
the  palms  when  long  I  lingered  where  of  yore  had 
stood  the  rose-red  city,  half  as  old  as  time.  Farewell, 
my  coat,  and  benedicite!  It  was  a  lady  called  thee 
into  life.  She  said,  Methinks  ye  need  a  velvet  coat. 
It  is  a  seemly  guise  to  ride  to  hounds.  Another  gave 
me  whip  and  silvered  spurs.  Now  all  have  vanished 
in  the  darkening  past.  Ladies  and  all  are  gone  into 
the  gloom.  Farewell,  my  coat,  and  benedicite  J 
Thou  'st  had  a  venturous  and  traveled  life,  for  thou 


STREET  SKETCHES.  171 

wert  once  in  Moscow  in  the  snow.  A  true  Bohemian 
thou  hast  ever  been,  and  as  a  right  Bohemian  thou 
wilt  die,  the  garment  of  a  roving  Romany.  Fain 
would  I  see  and  hear  what  thou  'rt  to  know  of  reck- 
less riding  and  the  gypsy  tan,  of  camps  in  dark  green 
lanes,  afar  from  towns.  Farewell,  mine  coat,  and 
benedicite  I 


VII. 

OF  CERTAIN  GENTLEMEN  AND  GYPSIES. 

ONE  morning  I  was  walking  with  Mr.  Thomas 
Carlyle  and  Mr.  Froude.  We  went  across  Hyde 
Park,  and  paused  to  rest  on  the  bridge.  This  is  a 
remarkable  place,  since  there,  in  the  very  heart  of 
London,  one  sees  a  view  which  is  perfectly  rural. 
The  old  oaks  rise  above  each  other  like  green  waves, 
the  houses  in  the  distance  are  country -like,  while  over 
the  trees,  and  far  away,  a  village-looking  spire  com- 
pletes the  picture.  I  think  that  it  was  Mr.  Froude 
who  called  my  attention  to  the  beauty  of  the  view, 
and  I  remarked  that  it  needed  only  a  gypsy  tent  and 
the  curling  smoke  to  make  it  in  all  respects  perfectly 
English. 

"  You  have  paid  some  attention  to  gypsies,"  said 
Mr.  Carlyle.  "  They  're  not  altogether  so  bad  a 
people  as  many  think.  In  Scotland,  we  used  to 
see  many  of  them.  I  '11  not  say  that  they  were  not 
rovers  and  reivers,  but  they  could  be  honest  at  times. 
The  country  folk  feared  them,  but  those  who  made 
friends  wi'  them  had  no  cause  to  complain  of  their 
conduct.  Once  there  was  a  man  who  was  persuaded 
to  lend  a  gypsy  a  large  sum  of  money.  My  father 
knew  the  man.  It  was  to  be  repaid  at  a  certain 
time.  The  day  came ;  the  gypsy  did  not.  And 
months  passed,  and  still  the  creditor  had  nothing  of 
money  but  the  memory  of  it ;  and  ye  remember 


OF  CERTAIN  GENTLEMEN  AND   GYPSIES.    173 

4  nessun  maggior  dolore,'  —  that  there  's  na  greater 
grief  than  to  remember  the  siller  ye  once  had.  Weel, 
one  day  the  man  was  surprised  to  hear  that  his  Men' 
the  gypsy  wan  ted  to  see  him  —  interview,  ye  call  it 
in  America.  And  the  gypsy  explained  that,  having 
been  arrested,  and  unfortunately  detained,  by  some 
little  accident,  in  preeson,  he  had  na  been  able  to 
keep  his  engagement.  'If  ye '11  just  gang  wi'  me,' 
said  the  gypsy,  'aw '11  mak'  it  all  right.'  4Mon,  aw 
wull,'  said  the  creditor, — they  were  Scotch,  ye  know, 
and  spoke  in  deealect.  So  the  gypsy  led  the  way  to 
the  house  which  he  had  inhabited,  a  cottage  which 
belonged  to  the  man  himself  to  whom  he  owed  the 
money.  And  there  he  lifted  up  the  hearthstone  ;  the 
hard-stane  they  call  it  in  Scotland,  and  it  is  called  so 
in  the  prophecy  of  Thomas  of  Ercildowne.  And  un- 
der the  hard-stane  there  was  an  iron  pot.  It  was  full 
of  gold,  and  out  of  that  gold  the  gypsy  carle  paid  his 
creditor.  Ye  wonder  how  't  was  come  by?  Well, 
ye  '11  have  heard  it 's  best  to  let  sleeping  dogs  lie." 

"  Yes.  And  what  was  said  of  the  Poles  who  had, 
during  the  Middle  Ages,  a  reputation  almost  as  good 
as  that  of  gypsies  ?  Ad  secretas  Poli,  curas  extendere 
noli.'1''  (Never  concern  your  soul  as  to  the  secrets  of  a 
Pole.) 

Mr.  Carlyle's  story  reminds  me  that  Walter  Simp- 
son, in  his  history  of  them,  says  that  the  Scottish 
gypsies  have  ever  been  distinguished  for  their  grati- 
tude to  those  who  treated  them  with  civility  and 
kindness,  anent  which  he  tells  a  capital  story,  while 
other  instances  sparkle  here  and  there  with  many 
brilliant  touches  in  his  five  hundred-and-fifty-page 
volume. 

I  have  more  than  once  met  with  Romanys,  when 


174  ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 

I  was  in  the  company  of  men  who,  like  Carlyle  and 
Bilderdijk,  "  were  also  in  the  world  of  letters  known," 
or  who  might  say,  "  We  have  deserved  to  be."  One 
of  the  many  memories  of  golden  days,  all  in  the 
merrie  tyine  of  summer  song  in  England,  is  of  the 
Thames,  and  of  a  pleasure  party  in  a  little  steam- 
launch.  It  was  a  weenie  affair,  —  just  room  for  six 
forward  outside  the  cubby,  which  was  called  the 
cabin ;  and  of  these  six,  one  was  Mr.  Roebuck,  — 
"  the  last  Englishman,"  as  some  one  has  called  him, 
but  as  the  late  Lord  Lytton  applies  the  same  term  to 
one  of  his  characters  about  the  time  of  the  Conquest, 
its  accuracy  may  be  doubted.  Say  the  last  type  of  a 
certain  phase  of  the  Englishman  ;  say  that  Roebuck 
was  the  last  of  the  old  iron  and  oak  men,  the  triplex 
ces  et  robur  chiefs  of  the  Gobbet  kind,  and  the  phrase 
may  pass.  But  it  will  only  pass  over  into  a  new  va- 
riety of  true  manhood.  However  frequently  the  last 
Englishman  may  die,  I  hope  it  will  be  ever  said  of 
him,  Le  roi  est  mart,  —  vive  le  roi  !  I  have  had  talks 
with  Lord  Lytton  on  gypsies.  He,  too,  was  once  a 
Romany  rye  in  a  small  way,  and  in  the  gay  May 
1  ley  day  of  his  young  manhood  once  went  off  with  a 
band  of  Romanys,  and  passed  weeks  in  their  tents,  — 
no  bad  thing,  either,  for  anybody.  I  was  more  than 
once  tempted  to  tell  him  the  strange  fact  that,  though 
he  had  been  among  the  black  people  and  thought 
he  had  learned  their  language,  what  they  had  im- 
posed upon  him  for  that  was  not  Romany,  but  cant, 
o>r  English  thieves'  slang.  For  what  is  given,  in  good 
faith,  as  the,  <rypsy  tongue  in  "  Paul  Clifford"  and  the 
"Disowned,''  is  only  the  same  old  mumping  Iwnnick 
which  was  palmed  off  on  Bampfylde  Moore  Carew; 
or  which  he  palmed  on  his  readers,  as  the  secret  of 


OF   CERTAIN   GENTLEMEN  AND  GYPSIES.     175 

the  Roms.  But  what  is  the  use  or  humanity  of  desil- 
lusioning  an  author  by  correcting  an  error  forty  years 
old.  If  one  could  have  corrected  it  in  the  proof,  a  la 
bonne  heure  !  Besides,  it  was  of  no  particular  conse- 
quence to  anybody  whether  the  characters  in  u  Paul 
Clifford  "  called  a  clergyman  a  patter-cove  or  a  rasJiai. 
It  is  a  supreme  moment  of  triumph  for  a  man  when 
he  discovers  that  his  specialty  —  whatever  it  be  — 
is  not  of  such  value  as  to  be  worth  troubling  anybody 
with  it,  As  for  Everybody,  he  is  fair  game. 

The  boat  went  up  the  Thames,  and  I  remember 
that  the  river  was,  that  morning,  unusually  beautiful. 
It  is  graceful,  as  in  an  outline,  even  when  leaden 
with  November  mists,  or  iron-gray  in  the  drizzle  of 
December,  but  under  the  golden  sunlight  of  June  it 
\s  lovely.  It  becomes  every  year,  with  gay  boating 
parties  in  semi-fancy  dresses,  more  of  a  carnival,  in 
which  the  carnivalers  and  their  carnivalentines  as- 
sume a  more  decided  character.  It  is  very  strange 
to  see  this  tendency  of  the  age  to  unfold  itself  in  new- 
festival  forms,  when  those  who  believe  that  there  can 
never  be  any  poetry  or  picturing  in  life  but  in  the 
past  are  wailing  over  the  vanishing  of  May-poles  and 
•)ld  English  sports.  There  may  be,  from  time  to 
time,  a  pause  between  the  acts ;  the  curtain  may  be 
down  a  little  longer  than  usual ;  but  in  the  long  run 
the  world-old  play  of  the  Peoples'  Holiday  will  go  on, 
as  it  has  been  going  ever  since  Satan  suggested  that 
little  apple-stealing  excursion  to  Eve,  which,  as  ex- 
plained by  the  Talmudists,  was  manifestly  the  direct 
pause  of  all  the  flirtations  and  other  dreadful  doings 
in  all  little  outings  down  to  the  present  clay,  in  the 
drawing-room  or  "  on  the  leads,"  world  without  end. 

And  as   the   boat  went   along  by  Weybridge  we 


176  ENGLISH   GYPSIES. 

passed  a  bank  by  which  was  a  small  gypsy  camp ; 
tents  and  wagons,  donkeys  and  all,  reflected  in  the 
silent  stream,  as  much  as  were  the  swans  in  the  fore- 
water.  And  in  the  camp  was  a  tall,  handsome,  wild 
beauty,  named  Britannia,  who  knew  me  well ;  a  dam- 
sel fond  of  larking,  with  as  much  genuine  devil's  gun- 
powder in  her  as  would  have  made  an  entire  pack 
or  a  Chinese  hundred  of  sixty-four  of  the  small  crack- 
(  rs  known  as  fast  girls,  in  or  around  society.  She 
was  a  splendid  creature,  long  and  lithe  and  lissom, 
but  well  rounded,  of  a  figure  suggestive  of  leaping 
hedges ;  and  as  the  sun  shone  on  her  white  teeth  and 
burning  black  eyes,  there  was  a  hint  of  biting,  too, 
about  her.  She  lay  coiled  and  basking,  in  feline  fash- 
ion, in  the  sun  ;  but  at  sight  of  me  on  the  boat,  up 
she  bounded,  and  ran  along  the  bank,  easily  keeping 
up  with  the  steamer,  and  crying  out  to  me  in  Rom- 
anes. 

Now  it  just  so  happened  that  I  by  no  means  felt 
certain  that  all  of  the  company  present  were  such 
Denial  Bohemians  as  to  appreciate  anything  like  the 
joyous  intimacy  which  Britannia  was  manifesting,  as 
she,  Atalanta-like,  coursed  along.  Consequently,  I 
was  not  delighted  with  her  attentions. 

"  What  a  fine  girl  I  "  said  Mr.  Roebuck.  "  How 
well  she  would  look  on  the  stage !  She  seems  to  know 
you." 

"  Certainly,"  said  one  of  the  ladies,  "  or  she  would 
not  be  speaking  her  language.  Why  don't  you  an- 
swer her  ?  Let  us  hear  a  conversation." 

Thus  adjured,  I  answered, — 

"Miri  pi'ii,  niiri  kushti  pen,  leng  lei  tute,  md  rak- 
tier  sd  drovdn !  Or  ma  ralcker  Romaneskas.  Man 
di/cesa  te  rdtiia  shan  akai.  Miri  kameli  —  man  kait 


OF   CERTAIN   GENTLEMEN  AND   GYPSIES.    177 

mandy  ladye  !  "  (My  sister,  my  nice,  sweet  sister  ! 
• — devil  take  you!  don't  liallo  at  me  like  that!  Or 
else  don't  talk  Romany.  Don't  you  see  there  are 
ladies  here  ?  My  dear,  don't  put  me  to  shame  !) 

"  Pen  the  rani  ta  wusser  mandy  a  trin-grushi  — 
who — op,  hallo!"  (Tell  the  lady  to  shy  me  a  shil- 
ling —  whoop  !)  cried  the  fast  damsel. 

"Pa  miri  duvels  kdm,  pen —  o  bero  se  ta  duro. 
Mandy  7£  de  tute  a  pash-korauna  keratti  if  tu  tevel 
ja.  G-orgie  shan  i  foki  kavakoi  !  "  (For  the  Lord's 
sake,  sister !  —  the  boat  is  too  far  from  shore.  I  '11 
give  you  half  a  crown  this  evening  if  you  '11  clear  out. 
These  be  Gentiles,  these  here.) 

u  It  seems  to  be  a  melodious  language,"  said  Mr. 
Roebuck,  greatly  amused.  "  What  are  you  saying  ?  " 

"  I  am  telling  her  to  hold  her  tongue,  and  go," 

"  But  how  on  earth  does  it  happen  that  you  speak 
such  a  language?"  inquired  a  lady.  "I  always 
thought  that  the  gypsies  only  talked  a  kind  of  Eng- 
lish slang,  and  this  sounds  like  a  foreign  tongue." 

All  this  time  Britannia,  like  the  Cork  Leg,  never 
tired,  but  kept  on  the  chase,  neck  and  neck,  till  we 
reached  a  lock,  when,  with  a  merry  laugh  like  a  child, 
she  turned  on  her  track  and  left  us. 

"  Mr.  L.'s  proficiency  in  Romany,"  said  Mr.  Roe- 
buck, "  is  well  known  to  me.  I  have  heard  him 
spoken  of  as  the  successor  to  George  Borrow." 

"  That,"  I  replied,  "  I  do  not  deserve.  There  are 
other  gentlemen  in  England  who  are  by  far  my  su- 
periors in  knowledge  of  the  people." 

And  I  spoke  very  sincerely.  Apropos  of  Mr. 
George  Borrow,  I  knew  him,  and  a  grand  old  fellow 
he  was,  —  a  fresh  and  hearty  giant,  holding  his  six 
feet  two  or  three  inches  as  uprightly  at  eighty  as  he 

12 


178  ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 

ever  had  at  eighteen.  I  believe  that  was  his  age,  but 
may  he  wrong.  Borrow  was  like  one  of  the  old 
Norse  heroes,  whom  he  so  much  admired,  or  an  old1 
fashioned  gypsy  bruiser,  full  of  craft  and  merry  tricks. 
One  of  these  he  played  on  me,  and  I  bear  him  no  mal- 
ice for  it.  The  manner  of  the  joke  was  this :  I  had 
written  a  book  on  the  English  gypsies  and  their  lan- 
guage ;  but  before  I  announced  it,  I  wrote  a  letter  to 
Father  George,  telling  him  that  I  proposed  to  print 
it,  and  asking  his  permission  to  dedicate  it  to  him. 
He  did  not  answer  the  letter,  but  "  worked  the  tip  " 
promptly  enough,  for  he  immediately  announced  in 
the  newspapers  on  the  following  Monday  his  "  Word- 
Book  of  the  Romany  Language,"  "  with  many  pieces 
in  gypsy,  illustrative  of  the  way  of  speaking  and 
thinking  of  the  English  gypsies,  with  specimens  of 
their  poetry,  and  an  account  of  various  things  relat- 
ing to  gypsy  life  in  England."  This  was  exactly 
what  I  had  told  him  that  my  book  would  contain  ;  for 
I  intended  originally  to  publish  a  vocabulary.  Father 
George  covered  the  track  by  not  answering  my  letter; 
but  I  subsequently  ascertained  that  it  had  been  faith- 
fully delivered  to  him  by  a  gentleman  from  whom  I 
obtained  the  information. 

It  was  like  the  contest  between  Hildebrand  the 
elder  and  his  son  :  — 

"  A  ready  trick  tried  Hildebrand, 
That  old,  gniy-lx'nnlccl  man; 
For  when  the  younger  raised  to  strike, 
Beneath  his  sword  he  ran." 

And,  like  the  son,  I  had  no  ill  feeling  about  it. 
My  obligations  to  him  for  "  Lavengro  "  and  the  "Rom- 
any Rye  "  and  his  other  works  are  such  as  I  owe  to 
few  men.  I  have  enjoyed  gypsying  more  than  any 


OF   CERTAIN   GENTLEMEN  AND   GYPSIES.    179 

Bport  in  ,the  world,  and  I  owe  my  love  of  it  all  to 
George  Borrow.  I  have  since  heard  that  a  part  of 
Mr.  Borrow's  "  Romano  Lavo-Lil "  had  been  in  man- 
uscript for  thirty  years,  and  that  it  might  never 
have  been  published  but  for  my  own  work.  I  hope 
that  this  is  true  ;  for  I  am  sincerely  proud  to  think 
that  I  may  have  been  in  any  way,  directly  or  indi- 
rectly, the  cause  of  his  giving  it  to  the  world.  I 
would  gladly  enough  have  burnt  my  own  book,  as  I 
said,  with  a  hearty  laugh,  when  I  saw  the  announce- 
ment of  the  "  Lavo-Lil,"  if  it  would  have  pleased 
the  old  Romany  rye,  and  I  never  spoke  a  truer 
word.  He  would  not  have  believed  it ;  but  it  would 
have  been  true,  all  the  same. 

I  well  remember  the  first  time  I  met  George  Bor- 
row. It  was  in  the  British  Museum,  and  I  was  in- 
troduced to  him  by  Mrs.  Estelle  Lewis,  —  now  dead, 
—  the  well  known-friend  of  Edgar  A.  Poe.  He  was 
seated  at  a  table,  and  had  a  large  old  German  folio 
open  before  him.  We  talked  about  gypsies,  and  I 
told  him  that  I  had  unquestionably  found  the  word 
for  "  green,"  shelno,  in  use  among  the  English  Rom- 
any. He  assented,  and  said  that  he  knew  it.  I 
mention  this  as  a  proof  of  the  manner  in  which  the 
"  Romano  Lavo-Lil "  must  have  been  hurried,  be- 
cause he  declares  in  it  that  there  is  no  English  gypsy 
word  for  "  green."  In  this  work  he  asserts  that  the 
English  gypsy  speech  does  not  probably  amount  to 
fourteen  hundred  words.  It  is  a  weakness  with  the 
Romany  rye  fraternity  to  believe  that  there  are  no 
words  in  gypsy  which  they  do  not  know.  I  am  sure 
that  my  own  collection  contains  nearly  four  thou- 
sand Anglo-Romany  terms,  many  of  which  I  feared 
were  doubtful,  but  which  I  am  constantly  verifying 


180  ESGLISU    GYPSIES. 

America  is  a  far  better  place  in  which  to  study  the 
laninia^e  than  England.  As  an  old  Scotch  gypsy 
said  to  me  lately,  the  deepest  and  cleverest  old  gyp- 
sies all  corae  over  here  to  America,  where  they  have 
grown  rich,  and  built  the  old  language  up  again. 

I  knew  a  gentleman  in  London  who  was  a  man  of 
extraordinary  energy.  Having  been  utterly  ruined, 
at  seventy  years  of  age,  by  a  relative,  he  left  Eng- 
land, was  absent  two  or  three  years  in  a  foreign  coun- 
try, during  which  time  he  made  in  business  some 
fifty  thousand  pounds,  and,  returning,  settled  down  in 
England.  He  had  been  in  youth  for  a  long  time  the 
most  intimate  friend  of  George  Borrow,  who  was,  he- 
said,  a  very  wild  and  eccentric  youth.  One  night, 
when  skylarking  about  London,  Borrow  was  pursued 
by  the  police,  as  he  wished  to  be,  even  as  Panurge 
so  planned  as  to  be  chased  by  the  night-watch.  He 
was  very  tall  and  strong  in  those  days,  a  trained 
shoulder-hitter,  and  could  run  like  a  deer.  He  was 
hunted  to  the  Thames,  "  and  there  they  thought  they 
had  him."  But  the  Romany  rye  made  for  the  edge, 
and,  leaping  into  the  wan  water,  like  the  Squyre  in 
the.  old  ballad,  swam  to  the  other  side,  and  escaped. 

I  have  conversed  with  Mr.  Borrow  on  many  sub- 
jects,—  horses,  gypsies,  and  Old  Irish.  Anent  which 
latter  subject  I  have  heard  him  declare  that  he  doubted 
whether  there  was  any  man  living  who  could  really 
read  an  old  Irish  manuscript.  I  have  seen  the  same 
statement  made  by  another  writer.  My  personal  im- 
pressions of  Mr.  Borrow  were  very  agreeable,  and  I 
was  pleased  to  learn  afterwards  from  Mrs.  Lewis  that 
he  had  expressed  himself  warmly  as  regarded  myself. 
As  he  was  not  invariably  disposed  to  like  those  whom 
he  met,  it  is  a  source  of  great  pleasure  to  me  t« 


OF   CERTAIN  GENTLEMEN  AND   GYPSIES.    181 

reflect  that  I  have  nothing  but  pleasant  memories  of 
the  good  old  Romany  rye,  the  Nestor  of  gypsy  gen- 
tlemen. It  is  commonly  reported  among  gypsies  that 
Mr.  Borrow  was  one  by  blood,  and  that  his  real  name 
was  Boro,  or  great.  This  is  not  true.  He  was  of 
pure  English  extraction. 

When  I  first  met  "George  Eliot"  and  G.  H. 
Lewes,  at  their  house  in  North  Bank,  the  lady  turned 
the  conversation  almost  at  once  to  gypsies.  They 
spoke  of  having  visited  the  Zincali  in  Spain,  and  of 
several  very  curious  meetings  with  the  Chabos.  Mr. 
Lewes,  in  fact,  seldom  met  me  —  and  we  met  very 
often  about  town,  and  at  many  places,  especially  at 
the  Triibners'  —  without  conversing  on  the  Romanys. 
The  subject  evidently  had  for  him  a  special  fascina- 
tion. I  believe  that  I  have  elsewhere  mentioned  that 
after  I  returned  from  Russia,  and  had  given  him,  by 
particular  request,  an  account  of  my  visits  to  the  gyp- 
sies of  St.  Petersburg  and  Moscow,  he  was  much 
struck  by  the  fact  that  I  had  chiromanced  to  the 
Romany  clan  of  the  latter  city.  To  tell  the  fortunes 
of  gypsy  girls  was,  he  thought,  the  refinement  of  pre- 
sumption. "  There  was  in  this  world  nothing  so  im- 
pudent as  a  gypsy  when  determined  to  tell  a  fortune  ; 
and  the  idea  of  not  one,  but  many  gypsy  girls  be- 
lieving earnestly  in  my  palmistry  was  like  a  right- 
eous retribution." 

The  late  Tom  Taylor  had,  while  a  student  at  Cam- 
bridge, been  aficionado,  or  smitten,  with  gypsies,  and 
made  a  manuscript  vocabulary  of  Romany  words, 
which  he  allowed  me  to  use,  and  from  which  I  ob- 
tained several  which  were  n^w  to  me.  This  fact 
should  make  all  smart  gypsy  scholars  "  take  tent " 
and  heed  as  to  believing  that  they  know  everything. 


182  ENGLISH   GYPSIES. 

I  have  many  Anglo-Romany  words  —  purely  Hindi  as 
to  origin  —  which  I  have  verified  again  and  again,  yet 
which  have  never  appeared  in  print.  Thus  far  the 
Romany  vocabulary  field  has  been  merely  scratched 
over. 

Who  that  knows  London  knoweth  not  Sir  Patrick 
Colquhoun  ?  I  made  his  acquaintance  in  1848,  when, 
coming  over  from  student-life  in  Paris  and  the  Revo- 
lution, I  was  most  kindly  treated  by  his  family.  A 
glorious,  tough,  widely  experienced  man  he  was  even 
in  early  youth.  For  then  he  already  bore  the  envi- 
able reputation  of  being  the  first  amateur  sculler  on 
the  Thames,  the  first  gentleman  light-weight  boxer  in 
England,  a  graduate  with  honors  of  Cambridge,  a 
Doctor  Ph.  of  Heidelberg,  a  diplomat,  and  a  lin- 
guist who  knew  Arabic,  Persian,  and  Gaelic,  Modern 
Greek  and  the  Omnium  Botherum  tongues.  They 
don't  make  such  men  nowadays,  or,  if  they  do,  they 
leave  out  the  genial  element. 

Years  had  passed,  and  I  had  returned  to  London  in 
1870,  and  found  Sir  Patrick  living,  as  of  yore,  in 
the  Temple,  where  I  once  and  yet  again  and  again 
dined  with  him.  It  was  in  the  early  days  of  this 
new  spring  of  English  life  that  we  found  ourselves  by 
chance  at  a  boat-race  on  the  Thames.  It  was  on  the 
Thames,  by  his  invitation,  that  I  had  twenty  years 
before  first  seen  an  English  regatta,  and  had  a  place 
in  the  gayly  decked,  superbly  luncheoned  barge  of  his 
club.  It  is  a  curious  point  in  English  character  that 
the  cleverest  people  do  not  realize  or  understand  how 
festive  and  genial  they  really  are,  or  how  gayly  and 
picturesquely  (hey  conduct  I  heir  spoils.  It  is  a  gen- 
erally accepted  doctrine  with  them  that  they  do  this 
kind  of  thing  better  in  France  ;  they  believe  sincerely 


OF  CERTAIN  GENTLEMEN  AND   GYPSIES.     183 

that  they  take  their  own  amusements  sadly  ;  it  is  the 
tone,  the  style,  with  the  wearily-witty,  dreary  clowns 
of  the  weekly  press,  in  their  watery  imitations  of 
Thackeray's  worst,  to  ridicule  all  English  festivity 
and  merry-making,  as  though  sunshine  had  faded  out 
of  life,  and  God  and  Nature  were  dead,  and  in  their 
place  a  great  wind-bag  Jesuit-Mallock  were  crying,  in 
tones  tainted  with  sulphuretted  hydrogen,  "Ah  bah  !  " 
Reader  mine,  I  have  seen  many  a  fete  in  my  time, 
all  the  way  from  illuminations  of  Paris  to  the  Khe- 
dive's fifteen-million-dollar  spree  in  1873  and  the  last 
grand  flash  of  the  Roman-candle  carnival  of  1846, 
but  for  true,  hearty  enjoyment  and  quiet  beauty  give 
me  agnerry  party  on  the  Thames.  Give  me,  I  say, 
its  sparkling  waters,  its  green  banks,  the  joyous,  beau- 
tiful girls,  the  hearty,  handsome  men.  Give  me  the 
boats,  darting  like  fishes,  the  gay  cries.  And  oh  — 
oh  !  —  give  me  the  Alsopp's  ale  in  a  quart  mug,  and 
not  a  remark  save  of  approbation  when  I  empty  it. 

I  had  met  Sir  Patrick  in  the  crowd,  and  our  conver- 
sation turned  on  gypsies.  When  living  before-time 
in  Roumania,  he  had  Romany  servants,  and  learned 
a  little  of  their  language.  Yes,  he  was  inclined  to  be 
"affected"  into  the  race,  and  thereupon  we  went 
gypsy  ing.  Truly,  we  had  not  far  to  seek,  for  just 
outside  the  crowd  a  large  and  flourishing  community 
of  the  black-blood  had  set  itself  up  in  the  pivlioi 
(cocoa-nut)  or  Jcashta  (stick)  business,  and  as  it  was 
late  in  the  afternoon,  and  the  entire  business-world 
was  about  as  drunk  as  mere  beer  could  make  it,  the 
scene  was  not  unlively.  At  that  time  I  was  new  to 
England,  and  unknown  to  every  gypsy  on  the  ground. 
In  after-days  I  learned  to  know  them  well,  very  wellT 
for  they  were  chiefly  Coopers  and  their  congeners, 


184  ENGLISH  GYPSIES, 

who  came  to  speak  of  me  as  their  rye  and  own  spe- 
cial property  or  proprietor,  —  an  allegiance  which  in- 
volved on  one  side  an  amount  of  shillings  and  beer 
which  concentrated  might  have  set  up  a  charity,  but 
which  was  duly  reciprocated  on  the  other  by  jocular 
tenures  of  cocoa-nuts,  baskets,  and  choice  and  deep 
words  in  the  language  of  Egypt. 

As  we  approached  the  cock-shy,  where  sticks  were 
cast  at  cocoa-nuts,  a  young  gypsy  chai,  whom  I  learned 
to  know  in  after-days  as  Athalia  Cooper,  asked  me  to 
buy  some  sticks.  A  penny  a  throw,  all  the  cocoa-nuts 
I  could  hit  to  be  my  own.  I  declined  ;  she  became 
urgent,  jolly,  riotous,  insistive.  I  endured  it  well,  for 
I  held  the  winning  cards.  Qui  minus  proper  e^ninus 
prospere.  And  then,  as  her  voice  rose  crescendo  into 
a  bawl,  so  that  all  the  Romanys  around  laughed  aloud 
to  see  the  green  Gorgio  so  chaffed  and  bothered,  I 
bent  me  low,  and  whispered  softly  in  her  ear  a  single 
monosyllable. 

Why  are  all  those  sticks  dropped  so  suddenly? 
Why  does  Athalia  in  a  second  become  sober,  and 
stand  up  staring  at  me,  all  her  chaff  and  urgency  for- 
gotten. Quite  polite  and  earnest  now.  But  there  is 
joy  behind  in  her  heart.  This  is  a  game,  a  jolly 
game,  and  no  mistake.  And  uplifting  her  voice  again, 
as  the  voice  of  one  who  findeth  an  exceeding  great 
treasure  even  in  the  wilderness,  she  cried  aloud,  — 
"It 's  a  Romany  rye!" 

The  spiciest  and  saltest  and  rosiest  of  Sir  Patrick's 
own  stories,  told  after  dinner  over  his  own  old  port  to 
a  special  conventicle  of  clergymen  about  town,  was 
never  received  with  such  a  roar  of  delight  as  that  cry 
of  Athalia's  was  by  the  Romany  dan.  I  :p  went  three 
cheers  at  the  find ;  further  afield  went  the  shout  pro- 


OF  CERTAIN  GENTLEMEN  AND   GYPSIES.    185 

claiming  the  discovery  of  an  aristocratic  stranger  of 
their  race,  a  rye,  who  was  to  them  as  wheat,  —  a 
gypsy  gentleman.  Neglecting  business,  they  threw 
down  their  sticks,  and  left  their  cocoanuts  to  grin  in 
solitude ;  the  dyes  turned  aside  from  fortune-telling 
to  see  what  strange  fortune  had  sent  such  a  visitor. 
In  ten  minutes  Sir  Patrick  and  I  were  surrounded 
by  such  a  circle  of  sudden  admirers  and  vehement 
applauders,  as  it  seldom  happens  to  any  mortal  to 
acquire  —  out  of  Ireland  —  at  such  exceedingly  short 
notice  and  on  such  easy  terms. 

They  were  not  particular  as  to  what  sort  of  a  gypsy 
I  was,  or  where  I  came  from,  or  any  nonsense  of  that 
sort,  you  know.  It  was  about  cerevisia  vincit  omnia, 
or  the  beery  time  of  day  with  them,  and  they  cared 
not  for  anything.  I  was  extremely  welcome ;  in 
short,  there  was  poetry  in  me.  I  had  come  down  on 
them  by  a  way  that  was  dark  and  a  trick  that  was 
vain,  in  the  path  of  mystery,  and  dropped  on  Athalia 
and  picked  her  up.  It  was  gypsily  done  and  very 
creditable  to  me,  and  even  Sir  Patrick  was  regarded 
as  one  to  be  honored  as  an  accomplice.  It  is  a  charm- 
ing novelty  in  every  life  to  have  the  better  class  of 
one's  own  kind  come  into  it,  and  nobody  feels  so 
keenly  as  a  jolly  Romany  that  jucundum  nihil  est 
nisi  quodreflcit  varietas — naught  pleases  us  without 
variety. 

Then  and  there  I  drew  to  me  the  first  threads  of 
what  became  in  after-days  a  strange  and  varied  skein 
of  humanity.  There  was  the  Thames  upon  a  holiday. 
Now  I  look  back  to  it,  I  ask,  Ubi  sunt  f  (Where  are 
they  all?)  Joshua  Cooper,  as  good  and  earnest  a 
Rom  as  ever  lived,  in  his  grave,  with  more  than  one 
of  those  who  made  my  acquaintance  by  hurrahing  for 


186  ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 

me.     Some  in  America,  some  wandering  wide.     Yet 
the iv  by  Wey bridge  still  the  Thames  runs  on. 

By  that  sweet  river  I  made  many  a  song.  One  of 
these,  to  the  tune  of  "  Waves  in  Sunlight  Dancing," 
rises  and  falls  in  memory  like  a  fitful  fairy  coming 
and  going  in  green  shadows,  and  that  it  may  not 
perish  utterly  I  here  give  it  a  place :  — 

AVELLA  PAUL  0  PANI. 

AV*  kushto  parl  o  pani, 

Av'  kushto  mir'  akai ! 
Mi  kameli  chovihani, 

Avel  ke  tiro  rye ! 

Shan  raklia  rinkenidiri, 

Mukkellan  rinkeni  se  ; 
Kek  rakli  'dre  i  temia 

Se  rinkenidiri  mi. 

Shan  dudnidiri  yakka, 

Mukkelan  dudeni ; 
Kek  yakk  peshel'  sa  kushti 

Pa  miro  kameli  zi. 

Shan  balia  longi  diri, 

Mtikk  'lende  bori  'pre*, 
Kek  waveri  raklia  balia, 

Te  lian  man  opre. 

Yoi  lela  angustrini, 

I  miri  tacheni, 
Kek  waver  mush  jinella, 

Sa  dovo  covva  se. 

Ad  re,  ad  re  o  doeyav 

1'iilriiiia  pcllrlan, 
Kcnnii  yek  dmmer  kerdo 

0  wavero  well'  an. 

Te  wenna  butidiri, 
Ke  jana  sig  akoi 


OF  CERTAIN  GENTLEMEN  AND   GYPSIES.    187 

Sa  sig  sa  yeck  si  gillo 
Shan  Avavcri  adoi. 

Avella  parl  o  pani, 

Avella  sig  akai ! 
Mi  kamli  tani-raui 

Avcll'  ke  tiro  rye 


COME  OVER  THE  RIVER. 

0  love,  come  o'er  the  water, 
O  love,  where'er  you  be ! 

My  own  sweetheart,  my  darling, 
Come  over  the  river  to  me ! 

If  any  girls  are  fairer, 

Then  fairer  let  them  he  ; 
No  maid  in  all  the  country 

Is  half  so  fair  to  me. 

If  other  eyes  are  brighter, 
Then  brighter  let  them  shine ; 

1  know  that  none  are  lighter 
Upon  this  heart  of  mine. 

If  other's  locks  are  longer, 
Then  longer  let  them  grow ; 

Hers  are  the  only  fish-lines 
Which  ever  caught  me  so. 

She  wears  upon  her  finger 

A  ring  we  know  so  well, 
And  we  and  that  ring  only 

Know  what  the  ring  can  tell. 

From  trees  into  the  water 
Leaves  fall  and  float  away, 

So  kisses  come  and  leave  us, 
A  thousand  in  a  day. 

Yet  though  they  come  by  thousand*, 
Yet  still  they  show  their  face ; 


188  ENGLISH  GYPSIES. 

As  soon  as  one  has  left  us 
Another  fills  its  place. 

0  love,  come  o'er  the  water, 
O  love,  where'er  you  be ! 

My  own  sweetheart,  my  darling, 
Come  over  the  river  to  me  I 


WELSH  GYPSIES. 
I. 

MAT  WOODS  THE  FIDDLER. 

THE  gypsies  of  Wales  are  to  those  of  England 
what  the  Welsh  themselves  are  to  the  English ;  more 
antique  and  quaint,  therefore  to  a  collector  of  human 
bric-a-brac  more  curious.  The  Welsh  Rom  is  spe- 
cially grateful  for  kindness  or  courtesy ;  he  is  deeper 
as  to  language,  and  preserves  many  of  the  picturesque 
traits  of  his  race  which  are  now  so  rapidly  vanishing. 
But  then  he  has  such  excellent  opportunity  for  gypsy- 
ing.  In  Wales  there  are  yet  thousands  of  acres  of 
wild  land,  deep  ravines,  rocky  corners,  and  roadside 
nooks,  where  he  can  boil  the  kettle  and  hatch  the 
tan,  or  pitch  his  tent,  undisturbed  by  the  rural  police- 
man. For  it  is  a  charming  country,  where  no  one 
need  weary  in  summer,  when  the  days  are  long,  or  in 
early  autumn,  — 

"  When  the  barley  is  ripe, 
And  the  frog  doth  pipe, 
In  golden  stripe 
And  green  all  dressed ; 
When  the  red  apples 
Roll  in  the  chest." 

Then  it  is  pleasant  walking  in  Wales,  and  there  too 
at  times,  between  hedge-rows,  you  may  meet  with  the 
Romany. 


190  WELSH   GYPSIES. 

I  was  at  Aberystwith  by  the  sea,  and  one  afternoon 
we  went,  a  party  of  three  gentlemen  and  three  ladies, 
in  a  char-a-banc,  or  wagonette,  to  drive.  It  was  a 
pleasant  afternoon,  and  we  had  many  a  fine  view  of 
distant  mountains,  on  whose  sides  were  mines  of  lead 
with  silver,  and  of  which  there  were  legends  from 
the  time  of  Queen  Elizabeth.  The  hills  looked 
leaden  and  blue  in  the  distance,  while  the  glancing 
sea  far  beyond  recalled  silver,  —  for  the  alchemy  of 
imagery,  at  least,  is  never  wanting  to  supply  ideal 
metals,  though  the  real  may  show  a  sad  deficit  in  the 
returns. 

As  we  drove  we  suddenly  overtook  a  singular  party, 
the  first  of  whom  was  the  leader,  who  had  lagged  be- 
hind. He  was  a  handsome,  slender,  very  dark  young 
man,  carrying  a  violin.  Before  him  went  a  little  open 
cart,  in  which  lay  an  old  woman,  and  by  her  a  harp 
With  it  walked  a  good-looking  gypsy  girl,  and  an- 
other young  man,  not  a  gypsy.  He  was  by  far  the 
handsomest  young  fellow,  in  form  and  features, 
whom  I  ever  met  among  the  agricultural  class  in" 
England ;  we  called  him  a  peasant  Apollo.  It  be- 
came evident  that  the  passional  affinity  which  had 
drawn  this  rustic  to  the  gypsy  girl,  and  to  the  roads, 
was  according  to  the  law  of  natural  selection,  for 
they  were  wonderfully  well  matched.  The  young 
man  had  the  grace  inseparable  from  a  fine  figure  and 
a  handsome  face,  while  the  girl  was  tall,  lithe,  and 
pantherine,  with  the  diavolesque  charm  which,  though 
often  attributed  by  fast-fashionable  novelists  to  their 
heroines,  is  really  never  found  except  among  the  low- 
born beauties  of  nature.  It  is  the  beauty  of  the  Imp 
and  of  the  Serpent ;  it  fades  with  letters  ;  it  dies  in 
the  drawing-room  or  on  the  stage.  You  are  mistaken 


MAT  WOODS   THE  FIDDLER.  191 

when  you  think  you  see  it  coming  out  of  the  syna- 
gogue, unless  it  be  a  very  vulgar  one.  Your  Lahova 
has  it  not,  despite  her  black  eyes,  for  she  is  too  clever 
and  too  conscious ;  the  devil-beauty  never  knows 
how  to  read,  she  is  unstudied  and  no  actress.  Rachel 
and  the  Bernhardt  have  it  not,  any  more  than  Saint 
Agnes  or  Miss  Blanche  Lapin.  It  is  not  of  good  or 
of  evil,  or  of  culture,  which  is  both  ;  it  is  all  and  only 
of  nature,  and  it  does  not  know  itself. 

As  the  wagonette  stopped  I  greeted  the  young 
man  at  first  in  English,  then  in  Romany.  When  he 
heard  the  gypsy  tongue  he  started,  his  countenance 
expressing  the  utmost  surprise  and  delight.  As  if 
he  could  hardly  believe  in  such  a  phenomenon  he  in- 
quired, "Romany?"  and  as  I  nodded  assent,  he 
clasped  my  hand,  the  tears  coming  into  his  eyes.  Such 
manifestations  are  not  common  among  gypsies,  but  I 
can  remember  how  one,  the  wife  of  black  Ben  Lee, 
was  thus  surprised  and  affected.  How  well  I  recall 
the  time  and  scene,  —  by  the  Thames,  in  the  late 
twilight,  when  every  tree  and  twig  was  violet  black 
against  the  amber  sky,  where  the  birds  were  chirp- 
chattering  themselves  to  roost  and  rest,  and  the  river 
rippled  and  murmured  a  duet  with  the  evening  breeze. 
I  was  walking  homeward  to  Oatlands  when  I  met 
the  tawny  Sinaminta,  bearing  her  little  stock  of  bas- 
kets to  the  tent  and  van  which  I  had  just  quitted, 
and  where  Ben  and  his  beautiful  little  boy  were  light- 
ing the  al  fresco  fire.  "  I  have  prayed  to  see  this 
day ! "  exclaimed  the  gypsy  woman.  "  I  have  so 
wanted  to  see  the  Romany  rye  of  the  Coopers.  And 
I  laid  by  a  little  delaben,  a  small  present,  for  you  when 
we  should  meet.  It 's  a  photograph  of  Ben  and  me 
and  our  child."  I  might  have  forgotten  the  evening 


192  WELSH  GYPSIES. 

and  the  amber  sky,  rippling  river  and  dark-green 
hedge-rows,  but  for  this  strange  meeting  and  greeting 
of  an  unknown  friend,  but  a  few  kind  words  fixed 
them  all  for  life.  That  must  be  indeed  a  wonderful 
landscape  which  humanity  does  not  make  more  im- 
pressive. 

I  spoke  but  a  few  words  to  the  gypsy  with  the 
violin,  and  we  drove  on  to  a  little  wayside  inn,  where 
we  alighted  and  rested.  After  a  while  the  gypsies 
came  along. 

"And  now,  if  you  will,  let  us  have  a  real  frolic,"  I 
said  to  my  friends.  A  word  was  enough.  A  quart 
of  ale,  and  the  fiddle  was  set  going,  and  I  sang  in 
Romany,  and  the  rustic  landlord  and  his  household 
wondered  what  sort  of  guests  we  could  be.  That  they 
had  never  before  entertained  such  a  mixed  party  I 
can  well  believe.  Here,  on  one  hand,  were  indubi- 
table swells,  above  their  usual  range ;  there,  on  the 
other,  were  the  dusky  vagabonds  of  the  road ;  and  it 
could  be  no  common  condescending  patronage,  for  I 
was  speaking  neither  Welsh  nor  English,  and  our 
friendly  fraternity  was  evident.  Yes,  many  a  time, 
in  England,  have  I  seen  the  civil  landlady  or  the 
neat-handed  Phillis  awed  with  bewilderment,  as  I 
have  introduced  Plato  Buckland,  or  the  most  dis- 
reputable-looking but  oily — yea,  glycerine-politeful 
—  old  Windsor  Frog,  into  the  parlor,  and  conversed 
with  him  in  mystic  words.  Such  an  event  is  a  rare 
joy  to  the  gypsy.  For  he  loves  to  be  lifted  up  among 
men ;  he  will  tell  you  with  pride  of  the  times  when  he 
was  pointed  at,  and  people  said,  "  He  's  the  man ! "  and 
how  a  real  gentleman  once  invited  him  into  his  house 
and  gave  him  a  glass  of  wine.  But  to  enter  the  best 
room  of  the  familiar  tavern,  to  order,  in  politest  but 


MAT  WOODS  THE  FIDDLER.  193 

imperative  tones,  "beer"  —  sixpenny  beer  —  for  him- 
self and  "  the  other  gentleman,"  is  indeed  bliss.  Then, 
in  addition  to  the  honor  of  moving  in  distinguished 
society,  before  the  very  eyes  and  in  the  high  places 
of  those  who  have  hitherto  always  considered  him  as 
a  lowly  cuss,  the  Romany  realizes  far  more  than  the 
common  peasant  the  contrast-contradiction,  or  the 
humor  of  the  drama,  its  bit  of  mystification,  and  es- 
pecially the  mystification  of  the  house-folk.  This  is 
unto  him  the  high  hour  of  the  soul,  and  it  is  not  for- 
gotten. It  passes  unto  the  golden  legends  of  the 
heart,  and  you  are  tenderly  enshrined  in  it. 

Once,  when  I  was  wandering  afoot  with  old  Cooper, 
we  stopped  at  an  inn,  and  in  a  room  by  ourselves  or- 
dered luncheon.  The  gypsy  might  have  had  poultry 
of  the  best ;  he  preferred  cold  pork.  While  the  at* 
tendant  was  in  the  room,  he  sat  with  exemplary  dig- 
nity at  the  table ;  but  as  the  girl  left,  he  followed  her 
step  sounds  with  his  ears,  like  a  dog,  moved  his 
head,  glanced  at  me  with  a  nod,  turned  sideways 
from  the  table,  and,  putting  his  plate  on  his  knees, 
proceeded  to  eat  without  a  fork. 

"  For  it  is  n't  proper  for  me  to  eat  at  the  table 
with  you,  or  as  you  do." 

The  Welsh  gypsy  played  well,  and  his  sister  touched 
the  harp  and  sang,  the  ale  circulated,  and  the  villagers, 
assembling,  gazed  in  a  crowd  into  the  hall.  Then  the 
girl  danced  solo,  just  as  I  have  seen  her  sisters  do  in 
Egypt  and  in  Russia,  to  her  brother's  fiddling.  Even 
so  of  old,  Syrian  and  Egyptian  girls  haunted  gardens 
and  taverns,  and  danced  pas  seul  all  over  the  Roman 
empire,  even  unto  Spain,  behaving  so  gypsily  that  wise 
men  have  conjectured  that  they  were  gypsies  in  very 
truth.  And  who  shall  say  they  were  not  ?  For  it  is 

13 


194  WELSH  GYPSIES. 

possible  that  prehistorically,  and  beyond  all  records 
of  Persian  Luri  and  Syrian  Ballerine  and  Egyptian 
Almeh,  there  was  all  over  the  East  an  outflowing  of 
these  children  of  art  from  one  common  primeval  In- 
dian stock.  From  one  fraternity,  in  Italy,  at  the 
present  day,  those  itinerant  pests,  the  hand-organ 
players,  proceed  to  the  ends  of  the  earth  and  to  the 
gold-diggings  thereof,  and  time  will  yet  show  that 
before  all  time,  or  in  its  early  dawn,  there  were  root- 
born  Romany  itinerants  singing,  piping,  and  dancing 
unto  all  the  known  world  ;  yea,  and  into  the  unknown 
darkness  beyond,  in  partibm  infidelium. 

A  gentleman  who  was  in  our  party  had  been  long 
in  the  East.  I  had  known  him  in  Alexandria  during 
the  carnival,  and  he  had  lived  long  time  outre,  mer,  in 
India.  Hearing  me  use  the  gypsy  numerals  —  yeck, 
dui,  trin,  shtor,  panj,  —  lie  proceeded  to  count  in 
Hindustani  or  Persian,  in  which  the  same  words  from 
one  to  ten  are  almost  identical  with  Romany.  All 
of  this  was  carefully  noted  by  the  old  gypsy  mother, 
—  as,  also,  that  my  friend  is  of  dark  complexion, 
with  sparkling  black  eyes.  Reduced  in  dress,  or  di- 
luted down  to  worn  corduroy  and  a  red  tie,  he  might 
easily  pass  muster,  among  the  Sons  of  the  Road,  as 
one  of  them. 

And  now  the  ladies  must,  of  course,  have  their  fort- 
unes told,  and  this,  I  could  observe,  greatly  aston- 
ished the  gypsies  in  their  secret  souls,  though  they 
put  a  cool  face  on  it.  That  we,  ourselves,  were  some 
kind  of  a  mysterious  high-caste  Romany  they  had 
ilready  concluded,  and  what  faith  could  we  put  in 
dukkerinf  But  as  it  would  indubitably  bring  forth 
shillings  to  their  benefit,  they  wisely  raised  no  <|iies- 
tions,  but  calmly  took  this  windfall,  which  had  fallen 


MAT  WOODS  THE  FIDDLER.  195 

as  it  were,  from  the  skies,  even  as  they  had  accepted 
the  beer,  which  had  come,  like  a  providential  rain, 
unto  them,  in  the  thirst  of  a  dry  journey. 

It  is  customary  for  all  gypsy  sorceresses  to  take 
those  who  are  to  be  fortune-told  aside,  and,  if  possible, 
into  a  room  by  themselves.  This  is  done  partly  to 
enhance  the  mystery  of  the  proceeding,  and  partly 
to  avoid  the  presence  of  witnesses  to  what  is  really  an 
illegal  act.  And  as  the  old  sorceress  led  a  lady  into 
the  little  parlor,  the  gypsy  man,  whose  name  was 
Mat,  glanced  up  at  me,  with  a  droll,  puzzled  expres- 
sion, and  said,  "  Patchessa  tu  adovo  ? "  (Do  you 
believe  in  that  ?)  With  a  wink,  I  answered,  "  Why 
not?  I,  too,  tell  fortunes  myself."  Anch  io  sono 
pittore.  It  seemed  to  satisfy  him,  for  he  replied, 
with  a  nod-wink,  and  proceeded  to  pour  forth  the 
balance  of  his  thoughts,  if  he  had  any,  into  the  music 
of  his  violin. 

When  the  ladies  had  all  been  instructed  as  to  their 
future,  my  friend,  who  had  been  in  the  East,  must 
needs  have  his  destiny  made  known  unto  him.  He 
did  not  believe  in  this  sort  of  thing,  you  know,  —  of 
course  not.  But  he  had  lived  a  long  time  among 
Orientals,  and  he  just  happened  to  wish  to  know  how 
certain  speculations  would  fall  out,  and  he  loves, 
above  all  things,  a  lark,  or  anything  out  of  the  com- 
mon. So  he  went  in.  And  when  alone  with  the 
sybil,  she  began  to  talfe  to  him  in  Romany. 

"  Oh,  I  say,  now,  old  lady,  stow  that ! "  he  ex- 
claimed. "  I  don't  understand  you." 

"  You  don't  understand  me ! "  exclaimed  the  for- 
ti.ne-teller.  "Perhaps  you  didn't  understand  your 
own  mother  when  she  talked  Romany  to  you.  What's 
the  use  of  your  tryin'  to  make  yourself  out  a  Gorgio 


196  WELSH  GYPSIES. 

to  me?  Don't  I  know  our  people?  Didn't  you* 
friend  there  talk  Romanes?  Isn't  he  all  Romanes- 
kas  ?  And  did  n't  I  hear  you  with  my  own  ears 
count  up  to  ten  in  Romany  ?  And  now,  after  that, 
you  would  deny  your  own  blood  and  people  !  Yes, 
you  Ve  dwelt  in  Gorgines  so  long  that  you  think 
your  eyes  are  blue  and  your  hair  is  yellow,  my  son, 
and  you  have  been  far  over  the  sea;  but  wherever  you 
went  you  knew  Romanes,  if  you  don't  know  your  own 
color.  But  you  shall  hear  your  fortune.  There  is 
lead  in  the  mines  and  silver  in  the  lead,  and  wealth 
for  him  who  is  to  win  it,  and  that  will  be  a  dark  man 
who  has  been  nine  times  over  the  sea,  and  eaten  his 
bread  under  the  black  tents,  and  been  three  times 
near  death,  once  from  a  horse,  and  once  from  a  man, 
and  once  through  a  woman.  And  you  will  know 
something  you  don't  know  now  before  a  month  is 
over,  and  something  will  be  found  that  is  now  hid- 
den, and  lias  been  hidden  since  the  world  was  made. 
And  there  's  a  good  fortune  coming  to  the  man  it  was 
made  for,  before  the  oldest  tree  that 's  a-growing  was 
a  seed,  and  that  's  a  man  as  knows  how  to  count 
Romanes  up  to  ten,  and  many  a  more  thing  beside 
that,  that  he  's  learned  beyond  the  great  water." 

And  so  we  went  our  ways,  tin*,  harp  and  violin 
sounds  growing  fainter  as  we  receded,  till  they  were 
like,  the,  buzzing  of  bees  in  drying  clover,  and  the 
twilight  grew  rosier  brown.  I  never  met  Mat  Woods 
main,  though  I  often  heard  of  his  fame  as  a  fiddler. 
Whether  my  Anglo-Indian  friend  found  the  fortune 
so  vaguely  predicted  is  to  mo  as  yet  unknown.  But 
I  believe  lliat  the  prediction  encouraged  him.  That 
there  are  evils  in  palmistry,  and  sin  in  card-drawing, 
and  iniquity  in  coffee-grounding,  and  vice  in  all  the 


MAT  WOODS  THE  FIDDLER.  197 

planets,  is 'established  by  statute,  and  yet  withal  I 
incline  to  believe  that  the  art  of  prediction  cheers  up 
many  a  despondent  soul,  and  does  some  little  good, 
even  as  good  ale,  despite  the  wickedness  of  drinking, 
makes  some  hearts  merry  and  others  stronger.  If 
there  are  foolish  maids  who  have  had  their  heads 
turned  by  being  told  of  coming  noblemen  and  pro- 
spective swells,  who  loved  the  ground  they  trod  on, 
and  were  waiting  to  woo  and  win  and  wed,  and  if 
the  same  maidens  herein  described  have  thereby, 
in  the  manner  set  forth,  been  led  by  the  aforesaid 
devices  unto  their  great  injury,  as  written  in  the 
above  indictment,  it  may  also  per  contra  and  on  the 
other  hand  be  pleaded  that  divers  girls,  to  wit,  those 
who  believe  in  prediction,  have,  by  encouragement 
and  hope  to  them  held  out  of  legally  marrying  sundry 
young  men  of  good  estate,  been  induced  to  behave 
better  than  they  would  otherwise  have  done,  and  led 
by  this  hope  have  acted  more  morally  than  was  their 
wont,  and  thereby  lifted  themselves  above  the  lowly 
state  of  vulgarity,  and  even  of  vice,  in  which  they 
would  otherwise  have  groveled,  hoveled,  or  cottaged. 
And  there  have  been  men  who,  cherishing  in  their 
hearts  a  prediction,  or,  what  amounts  to  the  same 
thing,  a  conviction,  or  a  set  fancy,  have  persevered 
in  hope  until  the  hope  was  realized.  You,  O  Chris- 
tian, who  believe  in  a  millennium,  you,  O  Jew,  who 
expect  a  Messiah,  and  await  the  fulfillment  of  your 
dukkerin,  are  both  in  the  right,  for  both  will  come 
true  when  you  make  them  do  so. 


II. 

THE  PIOUS   WASHERWOMAN. 

THERE  is  not  much  in  life  pleasanter  than  a  long 
ramble  on  the  road  in  leaf-green,  sun -gold  summer. 
Then  it  is  Nature's  merry-time,  when  fowls  in  woods 
them  maken  blithe,  and  the  crow  preaches  from  the 
fence  to  his  friends  afield,  and  the  honeysuckle  wink- 
cth  to  the  wild  rose  in  the  hedge  when  she  is  wooed 
by  the  little  buzzy  bee.  In  such  times  it  is  good  for 
the  heart  to  wander  over  the  hills  and  far  away,  into 
haunts  known  of  old,  where  perhaps  some  semi-Saxon 
church  nestles  in  a  hollow  behind  a  hill,  where  grass 
o'ergrows  each  mouldering  tomb,  and  the  brook,  as  it 
ripples  by  in  a  darksome  aldered  hollow,  speaks  in  a 
language  which  man  knows  no  more,  but  which  is 
answered  in  the  same  forgotten  tongue  by  the  thou- 
sand-year yew  as  it  rustles  in  the  breeze.  And  when 
there  are  Runic  stones  in  this  garden  of  God,  where 
He  raises  souls,  I  often  fancy  that  this  old  dialect  is 
written  in  their  rhythmic  lines.  The  yew-trees  were 
planted  by  law,  lang-syne,  to  yield  bows  to  the  realm, 
und  now  archery  is  dead  and  Martini-Henry  has  taken 
.ts  place,  but  the  yews  still  live,  and  the  Kunic  line 
art  of  the  twisted  lines  on  the  tombs,  after  a  thou 
Band  years'  sleep,  is  beginning  to  revive.  Every 
thing  at  such  a  time,  speaks  of  joy  and  resurrection 
—  tree;  and  tomb  and  bird  and  flower  and  bee. 

These  are  all  memories  of  a  walk  from  the  town 


THE  PIOUS  WASHERWOMAN.  199 

of  Aberystwith,  in  Wales,  which  walk  leads  by  an 
ancient  church,  in  the  soul  garden  of  which  are  two 
Runic  cross  tombstones.  One  day  I  went  farther 
afield  to  a  more  ancient  shrine,  on  the  top  of  a  high 
mountain.  This  was  to  the  summit  of  Cader  Idris, 
sixteen  miles  off.  On  this  summit  there  is  a  Druid- 
ical  circle,  of  which  the  stones,  themselves  to  ruin 
grown,  are  strange  and  death-like  old.  Legend  says 
that  this  is  the  burial-place  of  Taliesin,  the  first  of 
Welsh  bards,  the  primeval  poet  of  Celtic  time.  Who- 
ever sleeps  on  the  grave  will  awake  either  a  madman 
or  a  poet,  or  is  at  any  rate  unsafe  to  become  one  or 
the  other.  I  went,  with  two  friends,  afoot  on  this 
little  pilgrimage.  Both  were  professors  at  one  of  the 
great  universities.  The  elder  is  a  gentleman  of  great 
benevolence,  learning,  and  gentleness;  the  other,  a 
younger  man,  has  been  well  polished  and  sharpened 
by  travel  in  many  lands.  It  is  rumored  that  he  has 
preached  Islam  in  a  mosque  unto  the  Moslem  even 
unto  taking  up  a  collection,  which  is  the  final  test  of 
the  faith  which  reaches  forth  into  a  bright  eternity. 
That  he  can  be,  as  I  have  elsewhere  noted,  a  Persian 
unto  Persians,  and  a  Romany  among  Roms,  and  a 
professional  among  the  hanky-pankorites,  is  likewise 
on  the  cards,  as  surely  as  that  he  knows  the  roads  and 
all  the  devices  and  little  games  of  them  that  dwell 
thereon.  Though  elegant  enough  in  his  court  dress 
and  rapier  when  he  kisses  the  hand  of  our  sovereign 
lady  the  queen,  he  appears  such  an  abandoned  rough 
when  he  goes  a-fishing  that  the  innocent  and  guile- 
less gypsies,  little  suspecting  that  a  rye  lies  perdu  in 
his  wrap-rascal,  will  then  confide  in  him  as  if  he  and 
in-doors  had  never  been  acquainted. 

We  had  taken  with  us  a    sparing  lunch  of   thii; 


200  WELSH   GYPSIES. 

sandwiches  and  a  frugal  flask  of  modest,  blushing 
brandy,  which  we  diluted  at  a  stingy  little  fountain 
spring  which  dropped  economically  through  a  rift  in 
the  rock,  as  if  its  nymph  were  conscious  that  such  a 
delicious  drink  should  not  be  wasted.  As  it  was,  it 
refreshed  us,  and  we  were  resting  in  a  blessed  repose 
under  the  green  leaves,  when  we  heard  footsteps, 
and  an  old  woman  came  walking  by. 

She  was  the  ideal  of  decent  and  extreme  poverty. 
I  never  saw  anybody  who  was  at  once  so  poor  and 
so  clean.  In  her  face  and  in  her  thin  garments  was 
marked  the  mute,  resolute  struggle  between  need  and 
self-respect,  which,  to  him  who  understands  it,  is  as 
brave  as  any  battle  between  life  and  death.  She 
walked  on  as  if  she  would  have  gone  past  without  a 
word,  but  when  we  greeted  her  she  paused,  and  spoke 
respectfully.  Without  forwardness  she  told  hor  sad 
and  simple  story:  how  she  belonged" to  the  Wesleyan 
confession,  how  her  daughter  was  dying  in  the  hos- 
pital at  Caernarvon  ;  how  she  had  walked  sixty  miles 
to  see  her,  and  hoped  to  get  there  in  time  to  close  her 
eyes.  In  reply  to  a  question  as  to  her  means,  she  ad- 
mitted that  they  were  exhausted,  but  that  she  could 
get  through  without  money ;  she  did  not  beg.  And 
then  came  naturally  enough  the  rest  of  the  little  art- 
less narrative,  as  it  generally  happens  among  the 
simple  annals  of  the  poor :  how  she  had  been  for 
forty  years  a  washerwoman,  and  had  a  letter  from 
her  clergyman. 

There  was  a  tear  in  the  eye  of  the  elder  professor, 
and  his  hand  was  in  his  jvK-kct.  The  younger  smoked 
in  silenee.  I  was  grc-itly  moved  myself,  —  perhaps 
bewildered  would  be,  the,  better  word,  —  when,  all  at 
once,  as  the  old  woman  turned  in  the  sunlight,  1 
eaugnt  the  expression  of  the  corner  of  an  eye! 


THE  PIOUS  WASHERWOMAN.  201 

My  friend  Salaman,  who  boasts  that  he  is  of  the 
last  of  the  Sadducees,  —  that  strange,  ancient,  and  se- 
cret sect,  who  disguise  themselves  as  the  Neu  Re- 
formirte,  —  declares  that  the  Sephardim  may  be  dis- 
tinguished from  the  Ashkenazim  as  readily  as  frcm 
the  confounded  Goyim,  by  the  corners  of  their  eyes. 
This  he  illustrated  by  pointing  out  to  me,  as  they 
walked  by  in  the  cool  of  the  evening,  the  difference 
between  the  eyes  of  Fraulein  Eleoiiora  Kohn  and 
Senorita  Linda  Abarbanel  and  divers  and  sundry 
other  young  ladies,  —  the  result  being  that  I  received 
in  return  thirty-six  distinct  ceillades,  several  of  which 
expressed  indignation,  and  in  all  of  which  there  was 
evidently  an  entire  misconception  of  my  object  in 
looking  at  them.  Now  the  eyes  of  the  Sephardesses 
are  unquestionably  fascinating;  and  here  it  may  be 
recalled  that,  in  the  Middle  Ages,  witches  were  also 
recognized  by  having  exactly  the  same  corners,  or 
peaks,  to  the  eye.  This  is  an  ancient  mystery  of 
darksome  lore,  that  the  enchantress  always  has  the 
bird-peaked  eye,  which  betokens  danger  to  somebody, 
be  she  of  the  Sephardim,  or  an  ordinary  witch  or 
enchantress,  or  a  gypsy. 

Now,  as  the  old  Wesleyan  washerwoman  turned 
around  in  the  sunshine,  I  saw  the  witch-pointed  eye 
and  the  glint  of  the  Romany.  And  then  I  glanced 
at  her  hands,  and  saw  that  they  had  not  been  long 
familiar  with  wash-tubs  ;  for,  though  clean,  they  were 
brown,  and  had  never  been  blanched  with  an  age  of 
soap-suds.  And  I  spoke  suddenly,  and  said,  — 

"  Can  tute  ralcker  Romanes,  miri  dye  ?  "  (Can  you 
speak  Romany,  my  mother  ?)  And  she  answered,  as 
if  bewildered, — 


202  WELSH  GYPSIES. 

"  The  Lord  forbid,  sir,  that  I  should  talk  any  of 
them  wicked  languages." 

Tin.;  younger  professor's  eyes  expressed  dawning 
delight.  I  followed  my  shot  with,  — 

"  Tute  need  n't  be  attrash  to  rakker.  Mandy's  been 
apre  the  drom  mi-kokero."  (You  need  n't  be  afraid 
to  speak.  I  have  been  upon  the  road  myself.) 

And,  still  more  confused,  she  answered  in  Eng- 
lish, - 

"  Why,  sir,  you  be  upon  the  road  now  ! " 

"  It  seems  to  me,  old  lady,"  remarked  the  younger 
professor,  "that  you  understand  Romany  very  well 
for  one  who  has  been  for  forty  years  in  the  Method- 
ist communion." 

It  may  be  observed  that  he  here  confounded  wash- 
ing with  worshiping. 

The  face  of  the  true  believer  was  at  this  point  a 
fine  study.  All  her  confidence  had  deserted  her. 
Whether  she  thought  we  were  of  her  kind  in  dis- 
guise, or  that,  in  the  unknown  higher  world  of  re- 
spectability, there  might  be  gypsies  of  corresponding 
rank,  even  as  there  might  be  gypsy  angels  among  the 
celestial  hierarchies,  I  cannot  with  confidence  assert. 
About  a  week  ago  a  philologist  and  purist  told  me 
that  there  is  no  exact  synonym  in  English  for  the 
word  flabbergasted,  as  it  expresses  a  peculiar  state  of 
bewilderment  as  yet  unnamed  by  scholars,  and  it  ex- 
actly sets  forth  the  condition  in  which  our  virtuous 
poverty  appeared.  She  was,  indeed,  flabbergasted. 
Oornix  scorpum  rapuit,  —  the  owl  had  come  down  on 
the  rabbits,  and  lo  !  they  had  fangs.  I  resumed,  — 

"  Now,  old  lady,  here  is  a  penny.  You  are  a  verj 
poor  person,  and  I  pity  you  so  much  that  I  give  you 
L,his  penny  for  your  poverty.  But  there  is  a  pockek 


THE  PIOUS  WASHERWOMAN.  20B 

ful  where  this  came  from,  and  you  shall  have  the 
lot  if  you  '11  rakker"  —  that  is,  talk  gypsy. 

And  at  tluit  touch  of  the  Ithuriel  spear  the  old 
toad  flashed  up  into  the  Romany  devil,  as  with  gleam- 
ing eyes  and  a  witch-like  grin  she  cried  in  a  mixture 
of  gypsy  and  tinker  languages,  — 

"  Gents,  I  '11  have  tute  jin  when  you  tharis  mandy 
you  rakker  a  reg'lar  fly  old  bewer."  Which  means, 
"  Gentlemen,  I  '11  have  you  know,  when  you  talk  to 
me,  you  talk  to  a  reg'lar  shrewd  old  female  thief." 

The  face  of  the  elder  professor  was  a  study  of  as- 
tonishment for  Lavater.  His  fingers  relaxed  their 
grasp  of  the  shilling,  his  hand  was  drawn  from  his 
pocket,  and  his  glance,  like  Bill  Nye's,  remarked: 
"  Can  this  be  ?  "  He  tells  the  story  to  this  day,  and 
always  adds,  "  I  never  was  so  astonished  in  my  life." 
But  the  venerable  washerwoman  was  also  changed, 
and,  the  mask  once  thrown  aside,  she  became  as  fes- 
tive as  a  witch  on  the  Brocken.  Truly,  it  is  a  great 
comfort  to  cease  playing  a  part,  particularly  a  pious 
one,  and  be  at  home  and  at  ease  among  your  like ; 
and  better  still  if  they  be  swells.  This  was  the  de- 
ight  of  Anderson's  ugly  duck  when  it  got  among  the 
swans,  "  and,  blest  sensation,  felt  genteel."  And  to 
show  her  gratitude,  the  sorceress,  who  really  seemed 
to  have  grown  several  shades  darker,  insisted  on  tell- 
ing our  fortunes.  I  think  it  was  to  give  vent  to  her 
feelings  in  defiance  of  the  law  that  she  did  this  ;  cer- 
tain it  was  that  just  then,  under  the  circumstances,  it 
was  the  only  way  available  in  which  th6  law  could 
be  broken.  And  as  it  was,  indeed,  by  heath  and  hill 
that  the  priestess  of  the  hidden  spell  bade  the  Palmer 
from  over  the  sea  hold  out  his  palm.  And  she  began 
in  the  usual  sing-song  tone,  mocking  the  style  of 


204  WELSH   GYPSIES. 

gypsy  fortune-tellers,  and  satirizing  herself.  And 
thus  she  spoke,  — 

"  You  're  born  under  a-  lucky  star,  my  good  gentle- 
man, and  you  're  a  married  man  ;  but  there  's  a  black- 
eyed  young  lady  that's  in  love  with  you" 

"  Oh,  mother  of  all  the  thieves  !  "  I  cried,  "  you  've 
put  the  dukkerin  on  the  wrong  man.  I  'm  the  one 
that  the  dark  girls  go  after." 

"  Yes,  my  good  gentleman.  She  's  in  love  with 
you  both." 

"  And  now  tell  my  fortune  !  "  I  exclaimed,  and  with 
a  grim  expression,  casting  up  my  palm,  I  said,  — 

"  Pen  mengy  if  mandy  'II  be  bitchadS  padel  for 
cJiorin  a  gry,  or  naslierdo  for  mtrin  a  gav-mush" 
(Tell  me  if  I  am  to  be  transported  for  stealing  a 
horse,  or  hung  for  killing  a  policeman.) 

The  old  woman's  face  changed.  "You'll  never 
need  to  steal  a  horse.  The  man  that  knows  what 
you  know  never  need  be  poor  like  me.  I  know  who 
you  are  now  ;  you  're  not  one  of  these  tourists.  You  're 
the  boro  Romany  rye  [the  tall  gypsy  gentleman]. 
And  go  your  way,  and  brag  about  it  in  your  house,  — 
and  well  you  may,  —  that  Old  Moll  of  the  Roads 
could  n't  take  you  in,  and  that  you  found  her  out. 
Never  another  rye  but  you  will  ever  say  that  again. 
Never." 

And  she  went  dancing  away  in  the  sunshine,  ca- 
pering backwards  along  the  road,  merrily  shaking  the 
pennies  in  her  hand  for  music,  while  she  sang  some- 
thing in  gypsy,  —  witch  to  the  last,  vanishing  as 
witches  only  can.  And  there  came  over  me  a  feel- 
ing as  of  the  very  olden  time,  and  some  nn-mory  of 
another  witch,  who  had  said  to  another  man,  "Thou 
art  no  traveler.  Great  master,  I  know  thee  now;' 


THE  PIOUS  WASHERWOMAN.  205 

and  who,  when  he  called  her  the  mother  of  the  giants* 
replied,  "  Go  thy  way,  and  boast  at  home  that  no  man 
will  ever  waken  me  again  with  spells.  Never."  That 
was  the  parting  of  Odin  and  the  Vala  sorceress,  and 
it  was  the  story  of  oldest  time  ;  and  so  the  myth  of 
ancient  days  becomes  a  tattered  parody,  and  thus  runs 
the  world  away  to  Romany s  and  rags  —  when  the  gods 
are  gone. 

When  I  laughed  at  the  younger  professor  for  con- 
founding forty  years  in  the  church  with  as  many  at 
the  wash-tub,  he  replied,  — 

"  Cleanliness  is  with  me  so  near  to  godliness  that 
it  is  not  remarkable  that  in  my  hurry  I  mistook  one 
for  the  other." 

So  we  went  on  and  climbed  Cader  Idris,  and  found 
the  ancient  grave  of  rocks  in  a  mystic  circle,  whose 
meaning  lies  buried  with  the  last  Druid,  who  would 
perhaps  have  told  you  they  were  — 

"  Seats  of  stone  nevir  hewin  with  mennes  hand 
But  wrocht  by  Nature  as  it  ane  house  had  bene 
For  Nymphes,  goddis  of  floudes  and  woodis  grene." 

And  we  saw  afar  the  beautiful  scene,  "  where 
fluddes  rynnys  in  the  foaming  sea,"  as  Gawain  Doug- 
las sings,  and  where,  between  the  fresh  water  and  salt, 
stands  a  village,  even  where  it  stood  in  earliest  Cym- 
ric prehistoric  dawn,  and  the  spot  where  ran  the  weir 
in  which  the  prince  who  was  in  grief  because  his  weir 
yielded  no  fish,  at  last  fished  up  a  poet,  even  as  Pha- 
raoh's daughter  fished  out  a  prophet.  I  shall  not  soon 
forget  that  summer  day,  nor  the  dream-like  pano- 
rama, nor  the  ancient  grave  ;  nor  how  the  younger 
professor  lay  down  on  the  seat  of  stone  nevir  hewin 
with  mennes  hand,  and  declared  he  had  a  nap,  —  just 
enough  to  make  him  a  poet.  To  prove  which  he 


206  WELSH   GYPSIES. 

wrote  a  long  poem  on  the  finding  of  Taliesin  in  the 
.  :m<l  sent  it  to  the  AberyBtwith  newspaper; 
while  I,  not  to  be  behindhand,  wrote  another,  in  imi- 
tation of  the  triplets  of  Llydwarch  Hen,  which  were 
so  greatly  admired  as  tributes  to  Welsh  poetry  that 
they  were  forthwith  translated  faithfully  into  lines  of 
consonants,  touched  up  with  so  many  w's  that  they 
looked  like  saws  ;  and  they  circulated  even  unto  Llan- 
dudno,  and,  for  aught  I  know,  may  be  sung  at  Eisted- 
fodds,  now  and  ever,  to  the  twanging  of  small  harps, 
—  in  scecula  sceculorum.  Truly,  the  day  which  had 
begun  with  a  witch  ended  fitly  enough  at  the  tomb  of 
a  prophet  poet. 


III. 

THE  GYPSIES  AT  ABERYSTWITH. 

ABERYSTWITH  is  a  little  fishing-village,  which  has 
of  late  years  first  bloomed  as  a  railway-station,  and 
then  fruited  into  prosperity  as  a  bathing-place.  Like 
many  parvenus,  it  makes  a  great  display  of  its  Nor- 
man ancestor,  the  old  castle,  saying  little  about  the 
long  centuries  of  plebeian  obscurity  in  which  it  was 
once  buried.  This  castle,  after  being  woefully  neg- 
lected during  the  days  when  nobody  cared  for  its  early 
respectability,  has  been  suddenly  remembered,  now 
that  better  times  have  come,  and,  though  not  restored, 
has  been  made  comely  with  grass  banks,  benches, 
and  gravel  walks,  reminding  one  of  an  Irish  grand- 
father in  America,  taken  out  on  a  Sunday  with  "  the 
childher,"  and  looking  "gintale"  in  the  clean  shirt 
and  whole  coat  unknown  to  him  for  many  a  decade  in 
Tipperary.  Of  course  the  castle  and  the  wealth,  or 
the  hotels  and  parade,  are  well  to  the  fore,  or  boldly 
displayed,  as  Englishly  as  possible,  while  the  little 
Welsh  town  shrinks  quietly  into  the  hollow  behind. 
And  being  new  to  prosperity,  Aberystwith  is  also  a 
little  muddled  as  to  propriety.  It  would  regard  with 
horror  the  idea  of  allowing  ladies  and  gentlemen  to 
bathe  together,  even  though  completely  clad ;  but  it 
sees  nothing  out  of  the  way  when  gentlemen  in  pre- 
fig-leaf  costume  disport  themselves,  bathing  just  be- 
fore the  young  ladies'  boarding-school  and  the  chief 


208  WELSH  GYPSIES. 

hotel,  or  running  joyous  races  on  the  beach.  I  shall 
never  forget  the  amazement  and  horror  with  which 
an  Aberystwithienne  learned  that  in  distant  lands 
ladies  and  gentlemen  went  into  the  water  arm  in  arm, 
although  dressed.  But  when  it  was  urged  that  the 
Aberystwith  system  was  somewhat  peculiar,  she  re- 
plied, "  Oh,  t hat  is  a  very  different  thing !  " 

On  which  words  for  a  text  a  curious  sermon  might 
be  preached  to  the  Philistiny  souls  who  live  perfectly 
reconciled  to  absurd  paradoxes,  simply  because  they 
are  accustomed  to  them.  Now,  of  all  human  beings, 
I  think  the  gypsies  are  freest  from  trouble  with  par- 
adoxes as  to  things  being  different  or  alike,  and  the 
least  afflicted  with  moral  problems,  burning  questions, 
social  puzzles,  or  any  other  kind  of  mental  rubbish. 
They  are  even  freer  than  savages  or  the  heathen  in 
this  respect,  since  of  all  human  beings  the  Fijian, 
New  Zeahiuder.  Mpongwe,  or  Esquimaux  is  most  ter- 
ribly tortured  with  the  laws  of  etiquette,  religion, 
social  position,  and  propriety.  Among  many  of  these 
heathen  unfortunates  the  meeting  with  an  equal  in- 
volves lift  ecu  minutes  of  bowing,  re-bowing,  surre- 
bowing,  and  rejoinder-bowing,  with  complementary 
complimenting,  according  to  old  custom,  while  the 
worship  of  Mrs.  Grimily  through  a  superior  requires  a 
half  hour  wearisome  beyond  belief.  "In  Fiji,"  says 
Miss  C.  F.  Gordon  Gumming,  "strict  etiquette  rules 
every  action  of  life,  and  the  most  trifling  mistake  in 
such  matters  would  cause  as  great  dissatisfaction  as  a 
breach  in  the  order  of  precedence  at  a  European  cer- 
emonial." In  dividing  eold  baked  missionary  at  a 
dinner,  especially  if  a  chief  be  present,  the  host  com- 
mitting the  least  mistake  as  to  helping  the  proper 
guest  to  the  proper  piece  in  the  proper  way  would 


THE  G YPSIES  AT  A BER YST WITH.  209 

find  himself  promptly  put  down  in  the  menu.  In 
Fiji,  as  in  all  other  countries,  this  punctilio  is  noth- 
ing but  the  direct  result  of  ceaseless  effort  on  the  part 
of  the  upper  classes  to  distinguish  themselves  from 
the  lower.  Cannibalism  is  a  joint  sprout  from  the 
same  root ;  "  the  devotirers  of  the  poor "  are  the 
scorners  of  the  humble  and  lowly,  and  they  are  all 
grains  of  the  same  corn,  of  the  devil's  planting,  all 
the  world  over.  Perhaps  the  quaintest  error  which 
haunts  the  world  in  England  and  America  is  that  so 
much  of  this  stuff  as  is  taught  by  rule  or  fashion  as 
laws  for  "the  elite"  is  the  very  nucleus  of  enlight- 
enment and  refinement,  instead  of  its  being  a  remnant 
of  barbarism.  And  when  we  reflect  on  the  degree  to 
which  this  naive  and  child-like  faith  exists  in  the 
United  States,  as  shown  by  the  enormous  amount  of 
information  in  certain  newspapers  as  to  what  is  the 
latest  thing  necessary  to  be  done,  acted,  or  suffered  in 
order  to  be  socially  saved,  I  surmise  that  some  future 
historian  will  record  that  we,  being  an  envious  peo- 
ple, turned  out  the  Chinese,  because  we  could  not 
endure  the  presence  among  us  of  a  race  so  vastly  our 
superiors  in  all  that  constituted  the  true  principles  of 
culture  and  "  custom." 

Arthur  Mitchell,  in  inquiring  What  is  Civilization  71 
remarks  that  "all  the  things  which  gather  round  or 
grow  upon  a  high  state  of  civilization  are  not  neces- 
sarily true  parts  of  it.  These  conventionalities  are 
often  regarded  as  its  very  essence."  And  it  is  true 
that  the  greater  the  fool  or  snob,  the  deeper  is  the 
conviction  that  the  conventional  is  the  core  of  "  cult- 
ure." '"It  is  not  genteel,'  'in  good  form,'  or  'the 
mode,'  to  do  this  or  do  that,  or  say  this  or  say  that." 

i  The  Past  in  the  Present,  part  2,  lect.  3. 
14 


210  WELSH   GYPSIES. 

"Such  things  are  spoken  of  as  marks  of  a  high  civili- 
zation, or  by  those  who  do  not  confound  civilization 
with  culture  as  differentiators  between  the  cultured 
and  the  uncultured."  Dr.  Mitchell  "  neither  praises 
nor  condemns  these  things;"  but  it  is  well  for  a  man, 
while  he  is  about  it,  to  know  his  own  mind,  and  I, 
for  myself,  condemn  them  with  all  my  heart  and  soul, 
whenever  anybody  declares  that  such  brass  counters 
in  the  game  of  life  are  real  gold,  and  insists  that  I 
shall  accept  them  as  such.  For  small  play  in  a  very 
small  way  with  small  people,  I  would  endure  them ; 
but  many  men  and  nearly  all  women  make  their  cap- 
ital of  them.  And  whatever  may  be  said  in  their 
favor,  it  cannot  be  denied  that  they  constantly  lead 
to  lying  and  heartlessness.  Even  Dr.  Mitchell,  while 
he  says  he  does  not  condemn  them,  proceeds  immedi- 
ately to  declare  that  "  while  we  submit  to  them  they 
constitute  a  sort  of  tyranny,  under  which  we  fret  and 
secretly  pine  for  escape.  Does  not  the  exquisite  of 
Rotten  Row  weary  for  his  ilannel  shirt  and  shooting- 
•'aeket?  Do  not  'well-constituted'  men  want  to 
rish  and  shoot  or  kill  something,  themselves,  by  climb- 
ing mountains,  when  they  can  find  nothing  else?  In 
short,  does  it  not  appear  that  these  conventionalities 
are  irksome,  and  are  disregarded  when  the  chance 
presents  itself?  And  does  it  not  seem  as  if  there  were 
something  in  human  nature  pulling  men  back  to  a 
rude  and  simple  life  ?  "  To  find  that  men  suffer  un- 
der the  conventionalities,  "adds,  on  the  whole,"  says 
our  canny,  prudent  Scot,  "to  the  respectability  of 
human  nature."  Tu  It<>  r<i</><>ne  (right  you  are), 
Dr.  Mitchell,  there.  For  the  conventional,  whether 
found  among  Fijians  as  they  were,  or  in  May  fair  as 
it  is,  whenever  it  is  vexatious  and  merely  serves  as  a 


cordon 


THE  GYPSIES  AT  ABERYSTWITH.  211 


cordon  to  separate  "  sassiety  'r  from  society,  detracts 
from  the  respectability  of  humanity,  and  is  in  itself 
vulgar.  If  every  man  in  society  were  a  gentleman 
and  every  woman  a  lady,  there  would  be  no  more 
conventionalism.  Usus  est  tyrannus  (custom  is  a  ty- 
rant), or,  as  the  Talmud  proverb  saith,  "Custom  is  the 
plague  of  wise  men,  but  is  the  idol  of  fools."  And 
he  was  a  wise  Jew,  whoever  he  was,  who  declared  it. 

But  let  us  return  to  our  black  sheep,  the  gypsy. 
While  happy  in  not  being  conventional,  and  while 
rejoicing,  or  at  least  unconsciously  enjoying  freedom 
from  the  bonds  of  etiquette,  he  agrees  with  the  Chi- 
nese, red  Indians,  May  Fairies,  and  Fifth  Avenoodles 
in  manifesting  under  the  most  trying  circumstances 
that  imperturbability  which  was  once  declared  by  an 
eminent  Philadelphia!!  to  be  "the  Corinthian  orna- 
ment of  a  gentleman."  He  who  said  this  bnilded 
better  than  he  knew,  for  the  ornament  in  question,  if 
purely  Corinthian,  is  simply  brass.  One  morning  I 
was  sauntering  with  the  Palmer  in  Aberystwith, 
when  we  met  with  a  young  and  good-looking  gypsy 
woman,  with  whom  we  entered  into  conversation, 
learning  that  she  was  a  Bosville,  and  acquiring  other 
items  of  news  as  to  Egypt  and  the  roads,  and  then 
left. 

We  had  not  gone  far  before  we  found  a  tinker. 
He  who  catches  a  tinker  has  got  hold  of  half  a  gypsy 
and  a  whole  cosmopolite,  however  bad  the  catch  may 
be.  He  did  not  understand  the  greeting  Sarishan! 
' — he  really  could  not  remember  to  have  heard  it. 
He  did  not  know  any  gypsies,  —  "  he  could  not  get 
along  with  them."  They  were  a  bad  lot.  He  had 
seen  some  gypsies  three  weeks  before  on  the  road. 
They  were  curious  dark  people,  who  lived  in  tenta. 
He  could  not  talk  Romany. 


212  WELSH  GYPSIES. 

This  was  really  pitiable.  It  was  too  much.  The 
Palmer  inl'ormeel  him  that  he  was  wast  ing  his  best 
opportunities,  and  that  it  was  a  great  pity  that  any 
man  who  lived  on  the  roads  should  be  so  ignorant. 
The  tinker  never  winked.  In  the  goodness  of  our 
hearts  we  even  offered  to  give  him  lessons  in  the  kalo 
jib,  or  black  language.  The  grinder  was  as  calm  as  a 
Belgravian  image.  And  as  we  turned  to  depart  the 
professor  said, — 

"Mandyd  del  tute  a  shahori  to  pi  moro  Jcamma- 
ben,  if  tute  jinned  sa  mandi  pukkers."  (I  'd  give 
you  a  sixpence  to  drink  our  health,  if  you' knew  what 
I  am  saying.) 

With  undisturbed  gravity  the  tinker  replied,  — 

"Now  I  come  to  think  of  it,  I  do  remember  to 
have  heard  somethin'  in  the  parst  like  that.  It's  a 
con  wi vial  expression  arskin'  me  if  I  won't  have  a  tan- 
ner for  ale.  Which  I  will." 

"Now  since  you  take  such  an  interest  in  gypsies," 
I  answered.  "  it  is  a  pity  that  you  should  know  so  lit- 
tle about  them.  I  have  seen  them  since  you  have. 
I  saw  a  nice  young  woman,  one  of  the  Bosvilles  here, 
not  half  an  hour  ago.  Shall  I  introduce  you?" 

"  That  young  woman,"  remarked  the  tinker,  with 
the  same  immovable  countenance,  "is  my  wife.  And 
I  've  come  down  here,  by  appointment,  to  meet  some 
Romany  pals." 

And  having  politely  accepted  his  sixpence,  the  grid- 
dler  went  his  way,  tinkling  his  bell,  along  the  road, 
lie  did  not  disturb  himself  that  his  first  speeches  did 
not  agroo  with  his  last;  he  was  not  in  the  habit  of 
being  disturbed  about  anything,  and  lie  knew  that  no 
one  ever  learned  Komany  without  learning  with  it  not 
to  be  astonished  at  any  little  inconsistencies.  Serene 


THE  GYPSIES  AT  ABERYSTWITH.          213 

and  polished  as  a  piece  of  tin  in  the  sunshine,  he  would 
not  stoop  to  be  put  out  by  trifles.  He  was  a  typical 
tinker.  He  knew  that  the  world  had  made  up  prov- 
erbs expressing  the  utmost  indifference  either  for  a 
tinker's  blessing  or  a  tinker's  curse,  and  he  retali- 
ated by  not  caring  a  curse  whether  the  world  blessed 
or  banned  him.  In  all  ages  and  in  all  lands  the  tinker 
has  always  been  the  type  of  this  droning  indifference, 
which  goes  through  life  bagpiping  its  single  melody, 
or  whistling,  like  the  serene  Marquis  de  Crabs,  "  Tou- 
jours  Santerre." 

"  Es  ist  nnd  bleibt  das  alte  Lied 
Von  dem  versoff'nen  Pfannenschmied, 
Und  wer's  nicht  welter  singen  kann, 
Der  fang's  von  Vorne  wieder  an." 

'T  will  ever  be  the  same  old  song 
Of  tipsy  tinkers  all  day  long, 
And  he  who  cannot  sing  it  more 
May  sing  it  over,  as  before. 

I  should  have  liked  to  know  John  Bunyan.  As  a 
half-blood  gypsy  tinker  he  must  have  been  self-con- 
tained and  pleasant.  He  had  his  wits  about  him,  too, 
in  a  very  Romanly  way.  When  confined  in  prison 
he  made  a  flute  or  pipe  out  of  the  leg  of  his  three 
legged-stool,  and  would  play  on  it  to  pass  time.  When 
the  jailer  entered  to  stop  the  noise,  John  replaced  the 
leg  in  the  stool,  and  sat  on  it  looking  innocent  as  only 
a  gypsy  tinker  could,  —  calm  as  a  summer  morning. 
I  commend  the  subject  for  a  picture.  Very  recently, 
that  is,  in  the  beginning  of  1881,  a  man  of  the  same 
tinkering  kind,  and  possibly  of  the  same  blood  as 
Honest  John,  confined  in  the  prison  of  Moyamen- 
Bing,  Philadelphia,  did  nearly  the  same  thing,  only 
that  instead  of  making  his  stool  leg  into  a  musical 


214  WELSH  GYPSIES. 

pipe  he  converted  it  into  a  pipe  for  tobacco.  But 
when  the  watchman,  led  by  the  .smell,  entered  his  cell, 
there  was  no  pipe  to  be  found ;  only  a  deeply  injured 
man  complaining  that  "somebody  had  been  smokin' 
outside,  and  it  had  blowed  into  his  cell  through  the 
door-winder  from  the  corridore,  and  p'isoned  the  at- 
mosphere. And  he  did  n't  like  it."  And  thus  history 
repeats  itself.  'T  is  all  very  well  for  the  sticklers  for 
Wesley  an  gentility  to  deny  that  John  Bunyan  was  a 
gypsy,  but  he  who  in  his  life  cannot  read  Romany 
between  the  lines  knows  not  the  jib  nor  the  cut 
thereof.  Tough  was  J.  B.,  "and  de-vil-ish  sly,"  and 
altogether  a  much  better  man  than  many  suppose 
him  to  have  been. 

The  tinker  lived  with  his  wife  in  a  "tramps'  lodg- 
ing-house "  in  the  town.  To  those  Americans  who 
know  such  places  by  the  abominable  dens  which  are 
occasionally  reported  by  American  grand  juries,  the 
term  will  suggest  something  much  worse  than  it  is. 
In  England  the  average  tramp's  lodging  is  cleaner, 
better  regulated,  and  more  orderly  than  many  West- 
ern "hotels."  The  police  look  closely  after  it,  and 
do  not  allow  more  than  a  certain  number  in  a  room. 
They  see  that  it  is  frequently  cleaned,  and  that  clean 
sheets  an;  frequently  put  on  the  beds.  One  or  two 
hand-organs  in  the  hall,  with  a  tinker's  barrow  or 
wheel,  proclaimed  the  character  of  the,  lodgers,  and  in 
the  sitting-room  there  were  to  be  found,  of  an  evening, 
gypsies,  laborers  with  their  families  seeking  work 
or  itinerant  musicians.  J  can  recall  a  powerful  and 
tall  young  man,  with  a  badly  expressive  face,  one- 
l<'gged,  and  well  dressed  as  a  sailor.  lie  was  a  beg- 
gar, who  measured  the  good  or  evil  of  all  mankind 
by  what  they  gave  him.  He  was  very  bitter  as  to 


THE   GYPSIES  AT  ABERYSTWITH.          215 

the  bad.  Yet  this  house  was  in  its  way  upper  class. 
It  was  not  a  den  of  despair,  dirt,  and  misery,  and  even 
the  Italians  who  came  there  were  obliged  to  be  decent 
and  clean.  It  would  not  have  been  appropriate  to 
have  written  for  them  on  the  door,  "  Voi  che  intrate 
lasciate  ogni  speranza"  (He  who  enters  here  leaves 
soap  behind.)  The  most  painful  fact  which  struck 
me,  in  my  many  visits,  was  the  intelligence  and  de- 
cency of  some  of  the  boarders.  There  was  more  than 
one  who  conversed  in  a  manner  which  indicated  an 
excellent  early  education;  more  than  one  who  read 
the  newspaper  aloud  and  commented  on  it  to  the  com- 
pany, as  any  gentleman  might  have  done.  Indeed, 
the  painful  part  of  life  as  shown  among  these  poor 
people  was  the  manifest  fact  that  so  many  of  them 
had  come  down  from  a  higher  position,  or  were  qual- 
ified for  it.  And  this  is  characteristic  of  such  places. 
In  his  "  London  Labour  and  the  London  Poor,"  vol. 
i.  p.  217,  Mahew  tells  of  a  low  lodging-house  "in 
which  there  were  at  one  time  five  university  men, 
three  surgeons,  and  several  sorts  of  broken-down 
clerks."  The  majority  of  these  cases  are  the  result 
of  parents  having  risen  from  poverty  and  raised  their 
families  to  "gentility."  The  sons  are  deprived  by 
their  bringing  up  of  the  vulgar  pluck  and  coarse  en- 
ergy by  which  the  father  rose,  and  yet  are  expected  to 
make  their  way  in  the  world,  with  nothing  but  a  so- 
called  "  education,"  which  is  too  often  less  a  help 
than  a  hindrance.  In  the  race  of  life  no  man  is  so 
heavily  handicapped  as  a  young  "gentleman."  The 
humblest  and  raggedest  of  all  the  inmates  of  this 
house  were  two  men  who  got  their  living  by  shelkin 
gallopas  (or  selling  ferns),  as  it  is  called  in  the  Shelta, 
or  tinker's  and  tramp's  slang.  One  of  these,  whom  I 


216  WELSH  GYPSIES. 

have  described  in  another  chapter  as  teaching  me  this 
dialect,  could  conjugate  a  French  verb ;  we  thought 
he  had  studied  law.  The  other  was  a  poor  old  fellow 
called  Krooty,  who  could  give  the  Latin  names  for 
all  the  plants  which  he  gathered  and  sold,  and  who 
would  repeat  poetry  very  appropriately,  proving  suf- 
ficiently that  he  had  read  it.  Both  the  fern-sellers 
spoke  better  English  than  divers  Lord  Mayors  and 
Knights  to  whom  I  have  listened,  for  they  neither 
omitted  h  like  the  lowly,  nor  r  like  the  lofty  ones  of 
London. 

The  tinker's  wife  was  afflicted  with  a  nervous  dis- 
order, which  caused  her  great  suffering,  and  made  it 
almost  impossible  for  her  to  sell  goods,  or  contribute 
anything  to  the  joint  support.  Her  husband  always 
treated  her  with  the  greatest  kindness;  I  have  sel- 
dom seen  an  instance  in  which  a  man  was  more  indul- 
gent and  gentle.  He  made  no  display  whatever  of 
his  feelings ;  it  was  only  little  by  little  that  I  found 
out  what  a  heart  this  imperturbable  rough  of  the 
road  possessed.  Now  the  Palmer,  who  was  always 
engaged  in  some  wild  act  of  unconscious  benevolence, 
bought  for  her  some  medicine,  and  gave  her  an  order 
on  the  first  physician  in  the  town  for  proper  advice ; 
the  result  being  a  decided  amelioration  of  her  health. 
And  I  never  knew  any  human  being  to  be  more  sin- 
cerely grateful  than  the  tinker  was  for  this  kindness. 
Ascertaining  that  I  had  tools  for  wood-carving,  he  in- 
sisted on  presenting  me  with  crocus  powder,  "  to  put 
an  edge  on."  He  had  a  remarkably  fine  whetstone, 
"the  best  in  England;  it  was  worth  half  a  sover- 
eign," and  this  he  often  and  vainly  begged  me  to  ac- 
cept. And  he  had  a  peculiar  little  trick  of  relieving 
his  kindly  feelings.  Whenever  we  dropped  in  of  an 


THE   GYPSIES  AT  ABERYSTWITII.          217 

evening  to  the  lodging-house,  he  would  cunningly 
borrow  my  knife,  and  then  disappear.  Presently  the 
whiz-whiz,  st'st  of  his  wheel  would  be  heard  without, 
and  then  the  artful  dodger  would  reappear  with  a 
triumphant  smile,  and  with  the  knife  sharpened  to 
a  razor  edge.  Anent  which  gratitude  I  shall  have 
more  to  say  anon. 

One  day  I  was  walking  on  the  Front,  when  I  over- 
took a  gypsy  van,  loaded  with  baskets  and  mats, 
lumbering  along.  The  proprietor,  who  was  a  stranger 
to  me,  was  also  slightly  or  lightly  lumbering  in  his 
gait,  being  cheerfully  beery,  while  his  berry  brown 
wife,  with  a  little  three-year-old  boy,  peddled  wares 
from  door  to  door.  Both  were  amazed  and  pleased 
at  being  accosted  in  Romany.  In  the  course  of  con- 
versation they  showed  great  anxiety  as  to  their  child, 
who  had  long  suffered  from  some  disorder  which 
caused  them  great  alarm.  The  man's  first  name 
was  Anselo,  though  it  was  painted  Onslow  on  his 
vehicle.  Mr.  Anselo,  though  himself  just  come  to 
town,  was  at  once  deeply  impressed  with  the  duty 
of  hospitality  to  a  Romany  rye.  I  had  called  him 
pal,  and  this  in  gypsydom  involves  the  shaking  of 
hands,  and  with  the  better  class  an  extra  display  of 
courtesy.  He  produced  half  a  crown,  and  declared 
his  willingness  to  devote  it  all  to  beer  for  my  benefit. 
I  declined,  but  he  repeated  his  offer  several  times,  — 
not  with  any  annoying  display,  but  with  a  courteous 
earnestness,  intended  to  set  forth  a  sweet  sincerity. 
As  I  bade  him  good-by,  he  put  the  crown -piece  into 
one  eye,  and  as  he  danced  backward,  gypsy  fashion 
up  the  street  and  vanished  in  the  sunny  purple  twi- 
light towards  the  sea  I  could  see  him  winking  with 
the  other,  and  hear  him  cry,  "  Don't  say  no  —  now  'a 
the  last  chance  —  do  I  hear  a  bid  ?  " 


218  WELSH  GYPSIES. 

We  found  this  family  in  due  time  at  the  lodging- 
house,  where  the  little  boy  proved  to  be  indeed  seri- 
ously ill,  and  we  at  once  discovered  that  the  parents, 
in  their  ignorance,  had  quite  misunderstood  his  malady 
and  were  aggravating  it  by  mal-treatment.  To  these 
poor  people  the  good  Palmer  also  gave  an  order  on 
the  old  physician,  who  declared  that  the  boy  must 
have  died  in  a  few  days,  had  he  not  taken  charge  of 
him.  As  it  was,  the  little  fellow  was  speedily  cured. 
There  was,  it  appeared,  some  kind  of  consanguinity 
between  the  tinker  or  his  wife  and  the  Anselo  family. 
These  good  people,  anxious  to  do  anything,  yet  able 
to  do  little,  consulted  together  as  to  showing  their 
gratitude,  and  noting  that  we  were  specially  desir- 
ous of  collecting  old  gypsy  words  gave  us  all  they 
could  think  of,  and  without  informing  us  of  their  in- 
tention, which  indeed  we  only  learned  by  accident 
a  long  time  after,  sent  a  messenger  many  milea  to 
bring  to  Aberystwith  a  certain  Bosville,  who  was 
famed  as  being  deep  in  Romany  lore,  and  in  posses- 
sion of  many  ancient  words.  Which  was  indeed  true, 
he  having  been  the  first  to  teach  us  pisdli,  meaning  a. 
saddle,  and  in  which  Professor  Cowell,  of  Cambridge, 
promptly  detected  the  Sanskrit  for  sit-upon,  the  same 
double  meaning  also  existing  in  boshto ;  or,  as  old 
Mrs.  Buckland  said  to  me  at  Oaklands  Park,  in 
Philadelphia,  "a  pisdli  is  the  same  thing  with  a 
loshto" 

"  What  will  gain  thy  faith  ?  "  said  Quentin  Dur- 
ward  to  Hayradden  Maugrabhin.  "  Kindness,"  an- 
swered the  gypsy. 

The  joint  families,  solely  with  intent  to  please  us, 
although  they  never  said  a  word  about  it,  next  sent 
for  a  young  Romany,  one  of  the  Lees,  and  his  wife. 


THE  GYPSIES  AT  ABERYSTWITH.          219 

whom  they  supposed  we  would  like  to  meet.  Walk- 
ing along  the  Front,  I  met  the  tinker's  wife  with  the 
handsomest  Romany  girl  I  ever  beheld.  In  a  Lon- 
don ball-room  or  on  the  stage  she  would  have  been  a 
really  startling  beauty.  This  was  young  Mrs.  Lee. 
Her  husband  was  a  clever  violinist,  and  it  was  very 
remarkable  that  when  he  gave  himself  up  to  playing, 
with  abandon  or  self-forgetfulness,  there  came  into 
his  melodies  the  same  wild  gypsy  expression,  the 
same  chords  and  tones,  which  abound  in  the  music 
of  the  Austrian  Tsigane.  It  was  not  my  imagination 
which  prompted  the  recognition ;  the  Palmer  also 
observed  it,  without  thinking  it  remarkable.  From 
the  playing  of  both  Mat  Woods  and  young  Lee,  I 
am  sure  that  there  has  survived  among  the  Welsh 
gypsies  some  of  the  spirit  of  their  old  Eastern  music, 
just  as  in  the  solo  dancing  of  Mat's  sister  there  was 
precisely  the  same  kind  of  step  which  I  had  seen  in 
Moscow.  Among  the  hundreds  of  the  race  whom  I 
have  met  in  Great  Britain,  I  have  never  known  any 
young  people  who  were  so  purely  Romany  as  these. 
The  tinker  and  Anselo  with  his  wife  had  judged 
wisely  that  we  would  be  pleased  with  this  picturesque 
couple.  They  always  seemed  to  me  in  the  house 
like  two  wild  birds,  and  tropical  ones  at  that,  in  a 
--age.  There  was  a  tawny -gold,  black  and  scarlet 
tone  about  them  and  their  garb,  an  Indian  Spanish 
duskiness  and  glow  which  I  loved  to  look  at. 

Every  proceeding  of  the  tinker  and  Anselo  was 
veiled  in  mystery  and  hidden  in  the  obscurity  so  dear 
to  such  grown-up  children,  but  as  I  observed  after 
a  few  days  that  Lee  did  nothing  beyond  acting  as  as- 
sistant to  the  tinker  at  the  wheel,  I  surmised  that 
the  visit  was  solely  for  our  benefit.  'As  the  tinker 


220  WELSH  GYPSIES. 

was  devoted  to  his  poor  wife,  so  was  Anselo  and  his 
dame  devoted  to  their  child.  He  was,  indeed,  a  brave 
little  fellow,  and  frequently  manifested  the  precocious 
pluck  and  sturdiness  so  greatly  admired  by  the  Rom- 
anys  of  the  road ;  and  when  he  would  take  a  whip  and 
lead  the  horse,  or  in  other  ways  show  his  courage, 
the  delight  of  his  parents  was  in  its  turn  delightful. 
They  would  look  at  the  child  as  if  charmed,  and  then 
at  one  another  with  feelings  too  deep  for  words,  and 
then  at  me  for  sympathetic  admiration. 

The  keeper  of  the  house  where  they  lodged  was 
in  his  way  a  character  and  a  linguist.  Welsh  was 
his  native  tongue  and  English  his  second  best.  He 
also  knew  others,  such  as  Romany,  of  which  he  was 
proud,  and  the  Shelta  or  Minklas  of  the  tinkers,  of 
which  he  was  not.  The  only  language  which  he 
knew  of  which  he  was  really  ashamed  was  Italian, 
and  though  he  could  maintain  a  common  conversa- 
tion in  it  he  always  denied  that  he  remembered  more 
than  a  few  words.  For  it  was  not  as  the  tongue  of 
Dante,  but  as  the  lingo  of  organ-grinders  and  such 
"  catenone  "  that  be  knew  it,  and  I  think  that  the 
Palmer  and  I  lost  dignity  in  his  eyes  by  inadvertently 
admitting  that  it  was  familiar  to  us.  "  I  should  n't 
have  thought  it,"  was  all  his  comment  on  the  dis- 
covery, but  I  knew  his  thought,  and  it  was  that  we 
Uad  made  ourselves  unnecessarily  familiar  with  vul- 
garity. 

It  is  not  every  one  who  is  aware  of  the  extent  to 
which  Italian  is  known  by  the  lower  orders  in  Lon- 
don. It  is  not  spoken  as  a  language ;  but  many  of 
its  words,  sadly  mangled,  are  mixed  with  English  as 
•A  jargon.  Thus  the  Italian  scappare,  to  escape,  or 
run  away,  has  become  scarper;  and  a  dweller  in  the 


THE  GYPSIES  AT  ABERYSTWITH.  221 

Seven  Dials  has  been  heard  to  say  he  would  "  scarper 
with  the  feele  of  the  donna  of  the  cassey ;"  which 
means,  run  away  with  the  daughter  of  the  landlady  of 
the  house,  and  which,  as  the  editor  of  the  Slang  Dic- 
tionary pens,  is  almost  pure  Italian,  —  scappare  colla 
figlia  della  donna  della  casa.  Most  costermongers 
call  a  penny  a  saltee,  from  soldo  ;  a  crown,  a  caroon  ; 
and  one  half,  madza,  from  mezza.  They  count  as 

follows :  — 

ITALIAN. 

Oney  saltee,  a  penny Uno  soldo. 

Dooey  saltee,  twopence Dui  soldi. 

Tray  saltee,  threepence Tre  soldi. 

Quarterer  saltee,  fourpence    ....  Quattro  soldi. 

Chinker  saltee,  fivepence Cinque  soldi. 

Say  saltee,  sixpence Sei  soldi. 

Say  oney  saltee,  or  setter  saltee,  seven- 
pence  Sette  soldi. 

Say  dooee  saltee,  or  otter  saltee,  eight- 
pence  . Otto  soldi. 

Say  tray  saltee,  or  nobba  saltee,  nine- 
pence  Nove  soldi. 

Say  quarterer  saltee,  or  dacha  (datsha) 

saltee,  tenpence Dieci  soldi. 

Say  chinker  saltee,  or  dacha  one  saltee, 

elevenpence Dieci  uno  soldi, 

Oney  beong,  one  shilling Uno  bianco. 

A  beong  say  saltee,  one  shilling  and 

sixpence  ...  .  .  Uno  bianco  sei  soldi. 

Madza  caroon,  half  a  crown     .          .     .  Mezza  corona. 

Mr.  Hotten  says  that  he  could  never  discover  the 
derivation  of  beong,  or  beonk.  It  is  very  plainly  the 
Italian  bianco,  white,  which,  like  blanc  in  French  and 
blank  in  German,  is  often  applied  slangily  to  a  silver 
coin.  It  is  as  if  one  had  said,  "  a  shiner."  Apropos 


222  WELSH  GYPSIES. 

of  which  word  there  is  something  curious  to  be  noted. 
It  came  forth  in  evidence,  a  few  years  ago  in  England, 
that  burglars  or  other  thieves  always  carried  with 
them  a  piece  of  coal ;  and  on  this  disclosure,  a  certain 
writer,  in  his  printed  collection  of  curiosities,  com- 
ments as  if  it  were  a  superstition,  remarking  that  the 
coal  is  carried  for  an  amulet.  But  the  truth  is  that 
the  thief  has  no  such  idea.  The  coal  is  simply  a 
sign  for  money ;  and  when  the  bearer  meets  with  a 
man  whom  he  thinks  may  be  a  "  fence,"  or  a  pur- 
chaser of  stolen  goods,  he  shows  the  coal,  which  is 
as  much  as  to  say,  Have  you  money?  Money,  in 
vulgar  gypsy,  is  wongur,  a  corruption  of  the  better 
word  angar,  which  also  means  a  hot  coal;  and  braise, 
in  French  argdt,  has  the  same  double  meaning.  I 
may  be  wrong,  but  I  suspect  that  rat,  a  dollar  in 
Hebrew,  or  at  least  in  Schmussen,  has  its  root  in 
common  with  ratzafim,  coals,  and  possibly  poschit,  a 
farthing,  with  pecliam,  coal.  In  the  six  kinds  of  fire 
mentioned  in  the  Talmud,1  there  is  no  identification 
of  coals  with  money;  but  in  the  Germ;«n  legends  of 
Rubezahl,  there  is  a  tale  of  a  charcoal-burner  who 
found  them  changed  to  gold.  Coins  are  called  shiners 
because  they  shine  like  glowing  coals,  and  I  dare  say 
that  the  simile  exists  in  many  more  languages. 

One  twilight  we  found  in  the  public  sitting-room 
of  the  lodging-house  a  couple  whom  I  can  never  for- 
get. It  was  an  elderly  gypsy  and  his  wife.  The 
husband  was  himself  characteristic ;  the  wife  was 
more  than  merely  picturesque.  I  have  never  met 
such  a  superb  old  Romany  as  she  was;  indeed,  I  doubt 
if  I  ever  saw  any  woman  of  her  age,  in  any  land  or 
any  range  of  life,  with  a  more  magnificently  proud 
1  Yoma,  fol.  21,  col.  2. 


THE   GYPSIES  AT  ABERYSTWITH.  223 

expression  or  such  unaffected  dignity.  It  was  the 
whole  poem  of  u  Crescentius  "  living  in  modern  time 
in  other  form. 

When  a  scholar  associates  much  with  gypsies  there 
is  developed  in  him  in  due  time  a  perception  or  intu- 
ition of  certain  kinds  of  men  or  minds,  which  it  is 
as  difficult  to  describe  as  it  is  wonderful.  He  who 
has  read  Matthew  Arnold's  "  Gipsy  Scholar  "  ma}7, 
however,  find  therein  many  apt  words  for  it.  I  mean 
very  seriously  what  I  say  ;  I  mean  that  through  the 
Romany  the  demon  of  Socrates  acquires  distinctness ; 
I  mean  that  a  faculty  is  developed  which  is  as  strange 
as  divination,  and  which  is  greatly  akin  to  it.  The 
gypsies  themselves  apply  it  directly  to  palmistry ; 
were  they  well  educated  they  would  feel  it  in  higher 
forms.  It  may  be  reached  among  other  races  and  in 
other  modes,  and  Nature  is  always  offering  it  to  us 
freely ;  but  it  seems  to  live,  or  at  least  to  be  most  de- 
veloped, among  the  Romany.  It  comes  upon  the 
possessor  far  more  powerfully  when  in  contact  with 
certain  lives  than  with  others,  and  with  the  sympa- 
thetic it  takes  in  at  a  glance  that  which  may  employ 
it  at  intervals  for  years  to  think  out. 

And  by  this  duk  I  read  in  a  few  words  in  the 
Romany  woman  an  eagle  soul,  caged  between  the  bars 
of  poverty,  ignorance,  and  custom ;  but  a  great  soul  for 
all  that.  Both  she  and  her  husband  were  of  the  old 
type  of  their  race,  now  so  rare  in  England,  though 
commoner  in  America.  They  spoke  Romany  with 
inflection  and  conjugation  ;  they  remembered  the  old 
rhymes  and  old  words,  which  I  quoted  freely,  with  the 
Palmer.  Little  by  little,  the  old  man  seemed  to  be 
deeply  impressed,  indeed  awed,  by  our  utterly  inex- 


224  WELSH   GYPSIES. 

plicable  knowledge.  I  wore  a  velveteen  coat,  and 
had  on  a  broad,  soft  felt  hat. 

"  You  talk  as  the  old  Romanys  did,"  said  the  old 
man.  u  I  hear  you  use  words  which  I  once  heard 
from  old  men  who  died  when  I  was  a  boy.  I  thought 
those  words  were  lying  in  graves  which  have  long 
been  green.  I  hear  songs  and  sayings  which  I  never 
expected  to  hear  again.  You  talk  like  gypsies,  and 
such  gypsies  as  I  never  meet  now;  and  you  look  like 
Gorgios.  But  when  I  was  still  young,  a  few  of  the 
oldest  Romany  chals  still  wore  hats  such  as  you  have; 
and  when  I  first  looked  at  you,  I  thought  of  them.  I 
don't  understand  you.  It  is  strange,  very  strange." 

"  It  is  the  Romany  soul,"  said  his  wife.  "  People 
take  to  what  is  in  them  ;  if  a  bird  were  born  a  fox,  it 
would  love  to  fly." 

I  wondered  what  flights  she  would  have  taken  if 
she  had  wings.  But  I  understood  why  the  old  man 
had  spoken  as  he  did ;  for,  knowing  that  we  had  in- 
telligent listeners,  the  Palmer  and  I  had  brought  forth 
all  our  best  and  quaintest  Romany  curios,  and  these 
rural  Welsh  wanderers  were  not,  like  their  English 
pals,  familiar  with  Romany  ryes.  And  I  was  moved 
to  like  them,  and  nobody  perceives  this  sooner  than  a 
gypsy.  The  old  couple  were  the  parents  of  young 
Lee,  and  said  they  had  come  to  visit  him  ;  but  I  think 
that  it  was  rather  to  see  us  that  we  owed  their  pres- 
ence in  Aberystwith.  For  the  tinker  and  Anselo 
were  at  this  time  engaged,  in  their  secret  and  owl-like 
manner,  as  befitted  men  who  were  up  to  all  manner 
of  ways  that  were  dark,  in  collecting  the  most  in- 
teresting specimens  of  Romanys,  for  our  especial 
Btudy  ;  and  whenever  this  could  be  managed  so  that  it 


THE  GYPSIES  AT  ABERYSTWITH.  225 

appeared  entirely  accidental  and  a  surprise,  then  they 
retired  into  their  shadowed  souls  and  chuckled  with 
fiendish  glee  at  having  managed  things  so  charmingly. 
But  it  will  be  long  ere  I  forget  ho\v  the  old  man's 
eye  looked  into  the  past  as  he  recalled,  — 

"  The  hat  of  antique  shape  and  coat  of  gray, 
The  same  the  gypsies  wore," 

and  went  far  away  back  through  my  words  to  words 
heard  in  the  olden  time,  by  fires  long  since  burnt  out, 
beneath  the  flame-gilt  branches  of  forests  which  have 
sailed  away  as  ships,  farther  than  woods  eV,r  went 
from  Durisinane,  and  been  wrecked  in  Southern  seas. 
But  though  I  could  not  tell  exactly  what  was  in  every 
room,  I  knew  into  what  house  his  soul  had  gone ;  and 
it  was  for  this  that  the  scholar-gypsy  went  from  Ox- 
ford halls  "  to  learn  strange  arts  and  join  a  gypsy 
tribe."  His  friends  had  gone  from  earth  long  since, 
and  were  laid  to  sleep ;  some,  perhaps,  far  in  the  wold 
and  wild,  amid  the  rocks,  where  fox  and  wild  bird 
were  their  visitors ;  but  for  an  instant  they  rose 
again  from  their  graves,  and  I  knew  them. 

"  They  could  do  wonders  by  the  power  of  the  imag- 
ination," says  Glanvil  of  the  gypsies;  "their  fancy 
binding  that  of  others."  Understand  by  imagination 
and  fancy  all  that  Glanvil  really  meant,  and  I  agree 
with  him.  It  is  a  matter  of  history  that,  since  the 
Aryan  morning  of  mankind,  the  Romanys  have  been 
chiromancing,  and,  following  it,  trying  to  read  peo- 
ple's minds  and  bind  them  to  belief.  Thousands  of 
years  of  transmitted  hereditary  influences  always  re- 
sult in  something  ;  it  has  really  resulted  with  the  gyp- 
sies in  an  instinctive,  though  undeveloped,  intuitive 

15 


226  WELSH   GYPSIES. 

perception,  which  a  sympathetic  mind  acquires  from 
them,  —  nay,  is  compelled  to  acquire,  out  of  mere 
self-defense ;  and  when  gained,  it  manifests  itself  in 
many  forms, 

"  But  it  needs  heaven-sent  moments  for  this  skill." 


AMERICAN  GYPSIES. 


I. 


GYPSIES  IN   PHILADELPHIA. 

IT  is  true  that  the  American  gypsy  has  grown  more 
vigorous  in  this  country,  and,  like  many  plants,  has 
thriven  better  for  being  trans  —  I  was  about  to  write 
incautiously  ported,  but,  on  second  thought,  say 
planted.  Strangely  enough,  he  is  more  Romany  than 
ever.  I  have  had  many  opportunities  of  studying 
both  the  elders  from  England  and  the  younger  gyp- 
sies, born  of  English  parents,  and  I  have  found  that 
there  is  unquestionably  a  great  improvement  in  the 
race  here,  even  from  a  gypsy  stand-point.  The  young 
sapling,  under  more  favorable  influences,  has  pushed 
out  from  the  old  root,  and  grown  stronger.  The 
causes  for  this  are  varied.  Gypsies,  like  peacocks, 
thrive  best  when  allowed  to  range  afar.  II  faut  leur 
donner  le  clef  des  champs  (you  must  give  them  the 
key  of  the  fields),  as  I  once  heard  an  old  Frenchman, 
employed  on  Delmonico's  Long  Island  farm,  lang 
syne,  say  of  that  splendid  poultry.  And  what  a 
range  they  have,  from  the  Atlantic  to  the  Pacific  ! 
Marry,  sir,  't  is  like  roaming  from  sunrise  to  sunset, 
east  and  west,  "  and  from  the  aurora  borealis  to  a 
Southern  blue-jay,"  and  no  man  shall  make  them 
afraid.  Wood  !  "  Well,  't  is  a  kushto  tern  for  kdsht " 


228  AMERICAN  GYPSIES. 

(a  fair  land  for  timber),  as  a  very  decent  Romani- 
chal  said  to  me  one  afternoon.  It  was  thinking  of 
him  which  led  me  to  these  remarks. 

I  had  gone  with  my  niece  —  who  speaks  Romany 
• —  out  to  a  gypsyry  by  Oaklands  Park,  and  found 
there  one  of  our  good  people,  with  his  wife  and  chil 
dren,  in  a  tent.  Hard  by  was  the  wagon  and  the 
horse,  and,  after  the  usual  initiatory  amazement  at 
being  accosted  in  the  halo  jib,  or  black  language,  had 
been  survived,  we  settled  down  into  conversation. 
It  was  a  fine  autumnal  day,  Indian-summery,  —  the 
many  in  one  of  all  that  is  fine  in  weather  all  the 
world  over,  put  into  a  single  glorious  sense, — a 
sense  of  bracing  air  and  sunshine  not  over-bold  or 
bright,  and  purple,  tawny  hues  in  western  skies,  and 
dim,  sweet  feelings  of  the  olden  time.  And  as  we 
sat  lounging  in  lowly  seats,  and  talked  about  the  peo- 
ple and  their  ways,  it  seemed  to  me  as  if  I  were 
again  in  Devonshire  or  Surrey.  Our  host  —  for  every 
gypsy  who  is  visited  treats  you  as  a  guest,  thus  much 
Oriental  politeness  being  deeply  set  in  him  —  had 
been  in  America  from  boyhood,  but  he  seemed  to  be 
perfectly  acquainted  with  all  whom  I  had  known 
over  the  sea.  Only  one  thing  ho  had  not  heard,  the 
death  of  old  Gentilla  Cooper,  of  the  Devil's  Dyke, 
near  Brighton,  for  I  had  just  received  a  letter  from 
England  announcing  the  sad  news. 

"  Yes,  this  America  is  a  good  country  for  travel- 
ers. We  can  go  South  in  winter.  Aye,  the  land  is 
big  enough  to  go  to  a  warm  side  in  winter,  and  a 
cool  one  in  summer.  But  I  don't  go  South,  because 
I  don't  like  the  people,  ;  I  don't  get  along  with  them. 
Some  Romany  s  do.  Yes,  but  I  'in  not  on  that  horse. 
I  hear  that  the  old  country  's  getting  to  be  a  hard 


GYPSIES  IN  PHILADELPHIA.  229 

place  for  our  people.  Yes,  just  as  you  say,  there  's 
no  tan  to  hatch,  no  place  to  stay  in  there,  unless  you 
pay  as  much  as  if  you  went  to  a  hotel.  'T  is  n't  so 
here.  Some  places  they  're  uncivil,  but  mostly  we 
can  get  wood  and  water,  and  a  place  for  a  tent,  and 
a  bite  for  the  old  gry  [horse].  The  country  people 
like  to  see  us  come,  in  many  places.  They  're  more 
high-minded  and  hon'rable  here  than  they  are  in 
England.  If  we  can  cheat  them  in  horse-dealin'  they 
stand  it  as  gentlemen  always  ought  to  do  among 
themselves  in  such  games.  Horse-dealin'  is  horse- 
stealin',  in  a  way,  among  real  gentlemen.  If  I  can 
Jew  you  or  you  do  me,  it 's  all  square  in  gamblin', 
and  nobody  has  any  call  to  complain.  Therefore,  I 
allow  that  Americans  are  higher  up  as  gentlemen 
than  what  they  are  in  England.  It  is  not  all  of  one 
side,  like  a  jug-handle,  either.  Many  of  these  Amer- 
ican farmers  can  cheat  me,  and  have  done  it,  and  are 
proud  of  it.  Oh,  yes;  they're  much  higher  toned 
here.  In  England,  if  you  put  off  a  bavolengro  [broken- 
winded  horse]  on  a  fellow  he  comes  after  you  with  a 
cTiinamdngri  [writ].  Here  he  goes  like  a  man  and 
swindles  somebody  else  with  the  gry,  instead  of  sneak- 
ing off  to  a  magistrate. 

"  Yes,"  he  continued,  "  England  's  a  little  coun- 
try, very  little,  indeed,  but  it  is  astonishing  how  many 
Romany  s  come  out  of  it  over  here.  Do  I  notice  any 
change  in  them  after  coming  ?  I  do.  When  they 
first  come,  they  drink  liquor  or  beer  all  the  time. 
After  a  while  they  stop  heavy  drinking." 

I  may  here  observe  that  even  in  England  the  gyp- 
By,  although  his  getting  drunk  is  too  often  regulated 
or  limited  simply  by  his  means,  seldom  shows  in  hia 
person  the  results  of  long-continued  intemperance. 


230  AMERICAN  GYPSIES. 

Living  in  the  open  air,  taking  much  exercise,  con- 
stantly practicing  boxing,  rough  riding,  and  other 
manly  sports,  he  is  "  as  hard  as  nails,"  and  generally 
lives  to  a  hearty  old  age.  As  he  very  much  prefers 
beer  to  spirits,  it  may  be  a  question  whether  excess 
in  such  drinking  is  really  any  serious  injury  to  him 
The  ancestors  of  the  common  English  peasants  have 
for  a  thousand,  it  may  be  for  two  thousand,  years  or 
more  all  got  drunk  on  beer,  whenever  they  could 
afford  it,  and  yet  a  more  powerful  human  being  than 
the  English  peasant  does  not  exist.  It  may  be  that 
the  weaklings  all  die  at  an  early  age.  This  I  cannot 
deny,  nor  that  those  who  survive  are  simply  so  tough 
that  beer  cannot  kill  them.  What  this  gypsy  said  of 
the  impartial  and  liberal  manner  in  which  he  and  his 
kind  are  received  by  the  farmers  is  also  true.  I  once 
conversed  on  this  subject  with  a  gentleman  farmer, 
and  his  remarks  were  much  like  those  of  the  Rom. 
I  inferred  from  what  he  said  that  the  coining  of  a 
party  of  gypsy  horse-dealers  into  his  neighborhood 
was  welcomed  much  as  the  passengers  on  a  Southern 
steamboat  were  wont  of  old  to  welcome  the  proprie- 
tor of  a  portable  faro  bank.  "  I  think,"  said  he, 
"  that  the  last  time  the  gypsies  were  here  they  left 
more  than  they  took  away."  An  old  Rom  told  me 
once  that  in  some  parts  of  New  Jersey  they  were 
obliged  to  watch  their  tents  and  wagons  very  care- 
fully for  fear  of  the  country  people.  I  do  not  answer 
for  the  truth  of  this.  It  speaks  vast  volumes  I'm- 
the  cleverness  of  gypsies  that  they  can  actually  mako 
i  living  by  trading  horses  in  New  Spain. 

It  is  very  true  that  in  many  parts  of  America  the 
wanderers  are  welcomed  with  f,'u.v  de  joie,  or  with 
salutes  of  shot-guns,  —  the  guns,  unfortunately,  being 


GYPSIES  IN  PHILADELPHIA.  231 

shotted  and  aimed  at  them.  I  have  mentioned  in 
another  chapter,  on  a  Gypsy  Magic  Spell,  that  once 
in  Tennessee,  when  an  old  Romany  mother  had  suc- 
ceeded in  hoaxing  a  farmer's  wife  out  of  all  she  had 
in  the  world,  the  neighboring  farmers  took  the  witch, 
and,  with  a  view  to  preventing  effectually  further 
depredation,  caused  her  to  pass  "  through  flames  ma- 
terial and  temporal  unto  flames  immaterial  and  eter- 
nal ; "  that  is  to  say,  they  burned  her  alive.  But  the 
gypsy  would  much  prefer  having  to  deal  with  lynch- 
ers  than  with  lawyers.  Like  the  hedge-hog,  which  is 
typically  a  gypsy  animal,  he  likes  better  to  be  eaten 
by  those  of  his  own  kind  than  to  be  crushed  into 
dirt  by  those  who  do  not  understand  him.  This  story 
of  the  hedge-hog  was  cited  from  my  first  gypsy  book 
by  Sir  Charles  Dilke,  in  a  speech  in  which  he  made 
an  application  of  it  to  certain  conservatives  who  re- 
mained blindly  suffering  by  their  own  party.  It 
will  hold  good  forever.  Gypsies  never  flourished  so 
in  Europe  as  during  the  days  when  every  man's 
hand  was  against  them.  It  is  said  that  they  raided 
and  plundered  about  Scotland  for  fifty  years  before 
they  were  definitely  discovered  to  be  mere  maraud- 
ers, for  the  Scots  themselves  were  so  much  given 
up  to  similar  pursuits  that  the  gypsies  passed  unno- 
ticed. 

The  American  gypsies  do  not  beg,  like  their  Eng- 
lish brothers,  and  particularly  their  English  sisters. 
This  fact  speaks  volumes  for  their  greater  prosperity 
and  for  the  influence  which  association  with  a  proud 
race  has  on  the  poorest  people.  Our  friends  at  Oak- 
lands  always  welcomed  us  as  guests.  On  another 
occasion  when  we  went  there,  I  said  to  my  niece, 
"If  we  find  strangers  who  do  not  know  us,  do  not 


232  AMERICAN  GYPSIES. 

speak  at  first  in  Romany.  Let  us  astonish  them." 
We  came  to  a  tent,  before  which  sat  a  very  dark,  old- 
fashioned  gypsy  woman.  I  paused  before  her,  and 
said  in  English,  — 

"  Can  you  tell  a  fortune  for  a  young  lady  ?  " 

"  She  don't  want  her  fortune  told,"  replied  the  old 
woman,  suspiciously  and  cautiously,  or  it  may  be 
with  a  view  of  drawing  us  on.  "No,  I  can't  tell  fort- 
unes." 

At  this  the  young  lady  was  so  astonished  that, 
without  thinking  of  what  she  was  saying,  or  in  what 
language,  she  cried,  — 

"  Dordi !  Can't  tute  pen  dulckerin  ?  "  (Look  ! 
Can't  you  tell  fortunes  ?) 

This  unaffected  outburst  had  a  greater  effect  than 
the  most  deeply  studied  theatrical  situation  could 
have  brought  about.  The  old  dame  stared  at  me 
and  at  the  lady  as  if  bewildered,  and  cried,  — 

"  In  the  name  of  God,  what  kind  of  gypsies  are 
you  f  " 

"Oh!  mendui  shorn  bori  chovihani!"  cried  L., 
laughing;  "we  are  a  great  witch  and  a  wizard,  and 
if  you  can't  tell  me  my  fortune,  I  '11  tell  yours. 
Hold  out  your  hand,  and  cross  mine  witli  a  dollar, 
and  I'll  tell  you  as  big  a  lie  as  you  ever  penned  a 
galderli  G-oryio  [a  green  Gentile]." 

"Well,"  exclaimed  the  gypsy,  "I'll  believe  that 
you  can  tell  fortunes  or  do  anything!  Dordi!  dordi! 
but  this  is  wonderful.  Yet  you  're  not  the  first  Rom- 
any rani  [lady]  I  ever  met.  There 's  one  in  Delaware  : 
ftloridiri  [very  great]  lady  she  is,  and  true  Romany, 
— flick  o  tlx'.  jil>  if  rinkeni  adosta  [quirk  of  tongue 
and  fair  of  fare].  Well,  I  am  glad  to  see  you." 

"  Who  is  that  talking  there  ?  "  cried  a  man's  voice 


GYPSIES  IN  PHILADELPHIA.  233 

from  within  the  tent.  He  had  heard  Romany,  and 
he  spoke  it,  and  came  out  expecting  to  see  familiar 
faces.  His  own  was  a  study,  as  his  glance  encoun- 
tered mine.  As  soon  as  he  understood  that  I  came 
as  a  friend,  he  gave  way  to  infinite  joy,  mingled  with 
sincerest  grief  that  he  had  not  at  hand  the  means 
of  displaying  hospitality  to  such  distinguished  Rom- 
anys  as  we  evidently  were.  He  bewailed  the  absence 
of  strong  drink.  Would  we  have  some  tea  made? 
Would  I  accompany  him  to  the  next  tavern,  and 
have  some  beer?  All  at  once  a  happy  thought  struck 
him.  He  went  into  the  tent  and  brought  out  a  piece 
of  tobacco,  which  I  was  compelled  to  accept.  Refusal 
would  have  been  unkind,  for  it  was  given  from  the 
very  heart.  George  Borrow  tells  ns  that,  in  Spain,  a 
poor  gypsy  once  brought  him  a  pomegranate  as  a  first 
acquaintanceship  token.  A  gypsy  is  a  gypsy  wher- 
ever you  find  him. 

These  were  very  nice  people.  The  old  dame  took  a 
great  liking  to  L.,  and  showed  it  in  pleasant  manners. 
The  couple  were  both  English,  and  liked  to  talk  with 
me  of  the  old  country  and  the  many  mutual  friends 
whom  we  had  left  behind.  On  another  visit,  L. 
brought  a  scarlet  silk  handkerchief,  which  she  had 
bound  round  her  head  and  tied  under  her  chin  in  a 
very  gypsy  manner.  It  excited,  as  I  anticipated, 
great  admiration  from  the  old  dame. 

"Ah  Jcennd  tute  dikks  rinJcem—nowyou  look  nice. 
That 's  the  way  a  Romany  lady  ought  to  wear  it ! 
Don't  she  look  just  as  Alfi  used  to  look?"  she  cried 
to  her  husband.  "  Just  such  eyes  and  hair  !  " 

Here  L.  took  off  the  diklo,  or  handkerchief,  and 
passed  it  round  the  gypsy  woman's  head,  and  tied  it 
under  her  chin,  saying,  -*- 


234:  AMERICAN   GYPSIES. 

*  "  I  am  sure  it  becomes  you  much  more  than  it  does 
me.     Now  you  look  nice  :  — 

"  '  Red  and  yellow  for  Romany, 

And  blue  and  pink  for  the  Gorgiee.'  " 

We  rose  to  depart,  the  old  dame  offered  back  to 
L.  her  handkerchief,  and,  on  being  told  to  keep  it, 
was  greatly  pleased.  I  saw  that  the  way  in  which 
it  was  given  had  won  her  heart. 

"  Did  you  hear  what  the  old  woman  said  while  she 
was  telling  your  fortune  ?  "  asked  L.,  after  we  had 
left  the  tent. 

"  Now,  I  think  of  it,  I  remember  that  she  or  you 
had  hold  of  my  hand,  while  I  was  talking  with  the 
old  man,  and  he  was  making  merry  with  niy  whisky. 
I  was  turned  away,  and  around  so  that  I  never  no- 
ticed what  you  two  were  saying." 

"  She  penned  your  dukkerin,  and  it  was  wonderful. 
She  said  that  she  must  tell  it." 

And  here  L.  told  me  what  the  old  dye  had  in- 
sisted on  reading  in  my  hand.  It  was  simply  very 
remarkable,  and  embraced  an  apparent  knowledge  of 
the  past,  which  would  make  any  credulous  person 
believe  in  her  happy  predictions  of  the  future. 

"Ah,  well,"  I  said,  "I  suppose  the  dukk  told  it  to 
her.  She  may  be  an  eye-reader.  A  hint  dropped 
here  and  there,  unconsciously,  the  expression  of  the 
face,  and  a  life's  practice  will  make  anybody  a  witch. 
And  if  there  ever  was  a,  witch's  eye,  she  has  it." 

"I  would  like  to  have  her  picture/'  said  L.,  "in 
that  lullo  diklo  [red  handkerchief].  She  looked  like 
all  the  sorceresses  of  Thessaly  and  Egypt  in  one,  and, 
as  Bulxver  says  of  the.  \Yitdi  of  Vesuvius,  was  all  the 
more  terrible  for  having  been  beautiful." 

Some  time  after  this  we  went,  with  Britannia  Lee, 


GYPSIES  IN  PHILADELPHIA.  235 

a-gypsying,  not  figuratively,  but  literally,  over  the 
river  into  New  Jersey.  And  our  first  greeting,  as  we 
touched  the  ground,  was  of  good  omen,  and  from  a 
great  man,  for  it  was  Walt  Whitman.  It  is  not  often 
that  even  a  poet  meets  with  three  sincerer  admirers 
than  the  venerable  bard  encountered  on  this  occa- 
sion ;  so,  of  course,  we  stopped  and  talked,  and  L. 
had  the  pleasure  of  being  the  first  to  communicate 
to  Bon  Gualtier  certain  pleasant  things  which  had 
recently  been  printed  of  him  by  a  distinguished 
English  author,  which  is  always  an  agreeable  task. 
Blessed  upon  the  mountains,  or  at  the  Cainden  ferry- 
boat, or  anywhere,  are  the  feet  of  anybody  who  bring- 
eth  glad  tidings. 

"  Well,  are  you  going  to  see  gypsies  ?  " 
"  We  are.    We  three  gypsies  be.    By  the  abattoir. 
Au  revoir." 

And  on  we  went  to  the  place  where  I  had  first 
found  gypsies  in  America.  All  was  at  first  so  still 
that  it  seemed  if  no  one  could  be  camped  in  the 
spot. 

"  Se  Jcekno  adoi."     (There  's  nobody  there.) 
"Dordi!"  cried  Britannia,  " DikJcava  me  o  tuv  te 
tan  te  wardo.~\      [I  see  a  smoke,  a  tent,  a  wagon.]     I 
declare,  it  is  my  puro  pal,  my  old  friend,  W." 

And  we  drew  near  the  tent  and  greeted  its  owner, 
who  was  equally  astonished  and  delighted  at  seeing 
such  distinguished  Romany  tdni  ranis,  or  gypsy  young 
ladies,  and  brought  forth  his  wife  and  three  really 
beautiful  children  to  do  the  honors.  W.  was  a  good 
specimen  of  an  American-born  gypsy,  strong,  healthy, 
clean,  and  temperate,  none  the  worse  for  wear  in 
out-of-dooring,  through  tropical  summers  and  terrible 
winters.  Like  all  American  Romanys,  he  was  more 


236  AMERICAN  GYPSIES. 

straightforward  than  most  of  his  race  in  Europe 
All  Romanys  are  polite,  but  many  of  the  European 
kind  are  most  uncomfortably  and  unconsciously  naive. 
Strange  that  the  most  innocent  people  should  be 
those  who  most  offend  morality.  I  knew  a  lady 
once  —  Heaven  grant  that  I  may  never  meet  with 
such  another !  —  who  had  been  perfectly  educated 
in  entire  purity  of  soul.  And  I  never  knew  any 
devergondee  who  could  so  shock,  shame,  and  pain 
decent  people  as  this  Agnes  did  in  her  sweet  igno- 
rance. 

"  I  shall  never  forget  the  first  day  you  came  to  my 
camp,"  said  W.  to  Britannia.  "Ah,  you  astonished 
me  then.  You  might  have  knocked  me  down  with  a 
feather.  And  I  did  n't  know  what  to  say.  You 
came  in  a  carriage  with  two  other  ladies.  And  you 
jumped  out  first,  and  walked  up  to  me,  and  cried, 
'iSa'shdnf  That  stunned  me,  but  I  answered, 
4  ScCshdnS  Then  I  did  n't  speak  Romanes  to  you, 
for  I  did  n't  know  but  what  you  kept  it  a  secret 
from  the  other  two  ladies,  and  I  did  n't  wish  to  be- 
tray you.  And  when  you  began  to  talk  it  as  deep  as 
any  old  Romany  I  ever  heard,  and  pronounced  it  so 
rich  and  beautiful,  I  thought  I  'd  never  heard  the 
like.  I  thought  you  must  be  a  witch." 

"  Awer  me  shorn  chovihani"  (but  I  am  a  witch), 
cried  the  lady.  "  Mukka  menjd  adr£  o  tan."  (Let 
us  go  into  the  tent.)  So  we  entered,  and  sat  round  the 
fire,  and  asked  news  of  all  the  wanderers  of  the  roads, 
and  the  young  ladies,  having  filled  their  pockets  with 
sweets,  produced  them  for  the  children,  and  we  were, 
;»s  much  at  home  as  we  had  ever  been  in  any  salon  ; 
for  it  was  a  familiar  scene  to  us  all,  though  it  would, 
perhaps,  have  been  a  strange  one  to  the  reader,  had 


GYPSIES  IN  PHILADELPHIA.  237 

he  by  chance,  walking  that  lonely  way  in  the  twi- 
light, looked  into  the  tent  and  asked  his  way,  and 
there  found  two  young  ladies  —  bien  mises  —  with 
their  escort,  all  very  much  at  their  ease,  and  talking 
Romany  as  if  they  had  never  known  any  other  tongue 
from  the  cradle. 

"  What  is  the  charm  of  all  this  ?  "  It  is  that  if  one 
has  a  soul,  and  does  not  live  entirely  reflected  from 
the  little  thoughts  and  little  ways  of  a  thousand  other 
little  people,  it  is  well  to  have  at  all  times  in  his 
heart  some  strong  hold  of  nature.  No  matter  how 
much  we  may  be  lost  in  society,  dinners,  balls,  busi- 
ness, we  should  never  forget  that  there  is  an  eternal 
sky  with  stars  over  it  all,  a  vast,  mysterious  earth  with 
terrible  secrets  beneath  us,  seas,  mountains,  rivers, 
and  forests  away  and  around  ;  and  that  it  is  from 
these  and  what  is  theirs,  and  not  from  gas-lit,  stifling 
follies,  that  all  strength  and  true  beauty  must  come. 
To  this  life,  odd  as  he  is,  the  gypsy  belongs,  and  to  be 
sometimes  at  home  with  him  by  wood  and  wold  takes 
us  for  a  time  from  "the  world."  If  I  express  my- 
self vaguely  and  imperfectly,  it  is  only  to  those  who 
know  not  the  charm  of  nature,  its  ineffable  soothing 
sympathy,  —  its  life,  its  love.  Gypsies,  like  children, 
feel  this  enchantment  as  the  older  grown  do  not.  To 
them  it  is  a  song  without  words ;  would  they  be  hap- 
pier if  the  world  brought  them  to  know  it  as  words 
without  song,  without  music  or  melody?  I  never  read 
a  right  old  English  ballad  of  sumere  when  the  leaves 
{ire  grene  or  the  not-broune  maid,  with  its  rustling  as 
of  sprays  quivering  to  the  song  of  the  wode-wale,  with- 
out thinking  or  feeling  deeply  how  those  who  wrote 
them  would  have  been  bound  to  the  Romany.  It  is 
ridiculous  to  say  that  gypsies  are  not  "educated" 


238  AMERICAN  GYPSIES. 

to  nature  and  art,  when,  in  fact,  they  live  it.  I 
sometimes  suspect  that  aesthetic  culture  takes  more 
true  love  of  nature  out  of  the  soul  than  it  inspires. 
One  would  not  say  anything  of  a  wild  bird  or  deer 
being  deficient  in  a  sense  of  that  beauty  of  which  it 
is  a  part.  There  are  infinite  grades,  kinds,  or  varie- 
ties of  feeling  of  nature,  and  every  man  is  perfectly 
satisfied  that  his  is  the  true  one.  For  my  own  part, 
I  am  not  sure  that  a  rabbit,  in  the  dewy  grass,  does 
not  feel  the  beauty  of  nature  quite  as  much  as  Mr. 
Ruskin,  and  much  more  than  I  do. 

No  poet  has  so  far  set  forth  the  charm  of  gypsy  life 
better  than  Lenau  has  done,  in  his  highly-colored, 
quickly-expressive  ballad  of  "  Die  drei  Zigeuner,"  of 
which  I  here  give  a  translation  into  English  and  an 
other  into  Anglo-American  Romany. 

THE   THREE   GYPSIES. 

I  saw  three  (I\Y<\  men,  one  day, 

Camped  in  a  licit!  together, 
As  my  wagon  went  its  weary  way, 

All  over  the  sand  and  heather. 

And  one  of  the  three  whom  I  saw  there 

Had  his  fiddle  just  before  him, 
And  played  for  himself  a  stormy  air, 

While  the  evening-red  shone  o'er  him. 

And  the  second  puffed  his  pipe  again 

Serenely  and  undaunted, 
As  if  he  at  least  of  earthly  men 

Had  all  the  luck  that  he  wanted. 

In  sleep  and  comfort  the  last  was  laid, 

In  a  tree  his  cymbal T  lying, 
Over  its  strings  the  breezes  played, 

O'er  his  heart  a  dream  went  flying. 

1  Zimbel.  The  cymbal  of  the  Austrian  gypsies  is  a  stringed  instro 
«ent,  like  the  zitter. 


GYPSIES  IN  PHILADELPHIA.  239 

Ragged  enough  were  all  the  three, 

Their  garments  in  holes  and  tatters  ; 
But  they  seemed  to  defy  right  sturdily 

The  world  and  all  worldly  matters. 

Thrice  to  the  soul  they  seemed  to  say, 

When  earthly  trouble  tries  it, 
How  to  fiddle,  sleep  it,  and  smoke  it  away, 

And  so  in  three  ways  despise  it. 

And  ever  anon  I  look  around, 

As  my  wagon  onward  presses, 
At  the  gypsy  faces  darkly  browned, 

And  the  long  black  flying  tresses. 


TRIN  ROMANI  CHALIA. 

Dikdom  me  trin  geeria 
Sar  yeckno  a  tacho  Rom, 

Sa  miro  wardo  ghias  adur 
Apre  a  wafedo  drom. 

0  yeckto  sos  boshengero, 
Yuv  kellde  pes-kokero, 

O  kamlo-dud  te  perele 
Sos  lullo  apre  lo. 

0  duito  sar  a  swagele 

Dikde  'pre'  lestes  tuv, 
Ne  kamde  kumi,  penava  md 

'Dre  sar  o  midiivels  puv. 

0  trinto  sovade  kushto-bak 
Lest  'zimbel  adre'  rukk  se, 

O  bavol  kelld'  pre  i  tavia, 
O  sutto  'pre  leskro  zl. 

Te  sar  i-  lengheri  rudaben 
Shan  kattcrdi-chingerdo 

Awer  me  penav'  i  Romani  chals 
Ne  kesserden  chi  pa  lo. 


240  AMERICAN  GYPSIES. 

Trin  dromia  lende  sikkerden,  kan 
Sar  dikela  wafedo, 

Ta  bosher,  tuver  te  sove-a-lc 
Aja  sa  bachtalo. 

Dikdora  palal,  sa  ghiom  adur 
Talla  yeckno  Roman!  chal 

Tre"  lengheri  kali-brauni  mui, 
Te  lengheri  kali  bal. 


II. 

THE  CROCUS-PITCHER.* 
(PHILADELPHIA.) 

IT  was  a  fine  spring  noon,  and  the  corner  of  Fourth 
and  Library  streets  in  Philadelphia  was  like  a  rock 
in  the  turn  of  a  rapid  river,  so  great  was  the  crowd 
of  busy  business  men  which  flowed  past.  Just  out  of 
the  current  a  man  paused,  put  down  a  parcel  which 
he  carried,  turned  it  into  a  table,  placed  on  it  several 
vials,  produced  a  bundle  of  hand-bills,  and  began,  in 
the  language  of  his  tribe,  to  cant  —  that  is,  cantare,  to 
sing — the  virtues  of  a  medicine  which  was  certainly 
patent  in  being  spread  out  by  him  to  extremest  thin- 
ness. In  an  instant  there  were  a  hundred  people 
round  him.  He  seemed  to  be  well  known  and  waited 
for.  I  saw  at  a  glance  what  he  was.  The  dark 
eye  and  brown  face  indicated  a  touch  of  the  diddikai, 
or  one  with  a  little  gypsy  blood  in  his  veins,  while 
his  fluent  patter  and  unabashed  boldness  showed  a 
long  familiarity  with  race-grounds  and  the  road,  or 
with  the  Cheap-Jack  and  Dutch  auction  business, 
and  other  pursuits  requiring  unlimited  eloquence  and 
impudence.  How  many  a  man  of  learning,  nay 
of  genius,  might  have  paused  and  envied  that  vag- 
abond the  gifts  which  were  worth  so  little  to  their 
possessor !  But  what  was  remarkable  about  him 
was  that  instead  of  endeavoring  to  conceal  any  gypsy 

1  Crocus,  in  common  slang  an  itinerant  quack,  mountebank,  or  seller 
of  medicine ;  Pitcher,  a  street  dealer. 
16 


242  AMERICAN  GYPSIES. 

indications,  they  were  manifestly  exaggerated.  He 
wore  a  broad-brimmed  hat  and  ear-rings  and  a  red 
embroidered  waistcoat  of  the  most  forcible  old  Rom- 
any pattern,  which  was  soon  explained  by  his  words. 
"  Sorry  to  keep  you  waiting,"  he  said.  "  I  am  al- 
ways sorry  to  detain  a  select  and  genteel  audience. 
But  I  was  detained  myself  by  a  very  interesting  inci- 
dent. I  was  invited  to  lunch  with  a  wealthy  German 
gentleman  ;  a  very  wealthy  German,  I  say,  one  of  the 
pillars  of  your  city  and  front  door-step  of  your  coun- 
cil, and  who  would  be  the  steeple  of  your  exchange, 
if  it  had  one.  And  on  arriving  at  his  house  he  re- 
marked, '  Toctor,  by  tain  you  koom  yust  in  goot  dime, 
for -mine  frau  und  die  cook  ish  bote  fall  sick  mit  some- 
ding  in  a  hoory,  und  I  kess  she  Ml  die  pooty  quick- 
sudden.'  Unfortunately  I  had  with  me,  gentlemen, 
but  a  single  dose  of  my  world-famous  Gypsy's  Elixir 
and  Romany  Pharmacopheionepenthe.  (That  is  the 
name,  gentlemen,  but  as  J  detest  quackery  I  term 
it  simply  the,  Gypsy's  Elixir.)  Wlu-n  the  German 
gentleman  learned  that  in  all  probability  but  one  life 
could  be  saved  he  said,  4  Veil,  denn,  doctor,  snbbose 
you  gifes  dat  dose  to  de  cook.  For  mine  frau  ish 
so  goot  dat  it 's  all  right  mit  her.  She  's  reaty  to 
tie.  But  de  boor  gook  ish  a  sinner,  ash  I  knows,  und 
not  reaty  for  de  next  world.  And  dere  ish  no  vmn- 
ans  in  town  dat  can  gook  mine  saner-kraut  asli  she 
do.'  Fortunately,  gentlemen,  I  found  in  an  unknown 
corner  of  a,  forgotten  pocket  an  unsuspected  bottle  of 
the  Gypsy's  Elixir,  and  both  interesting  lives  were 
saved  with  such  promptitude,  punctuality,  neatness 
and  dispatch  that  the  cook  proceeded  immediately  to 
conclude  the  preparation  of  our  meal  —  (thank  you 
sir,  —  one  dollar,  if  you  please,  sir.  You  say  I  only 


THE  CROCUS-PITCHER.  243 

charged  half  a  dollar  yesterday  !  That  was  for  a 
smaller  bottle,  sir.  Same  size,  as  this,  was  it  ?  Ah, 
yes,  I  gave  you  a  large  bottle  by  mistake,  —  so  you 
owe  me  fifty  cents.  Never  mind,  don't  give  it  back. 
I  '11  take  the  half  dollar.") 

All  of  this  had  been  spoken  with  the  utmost  volu- 
bility. As  I  listened  I  almost  fancied  myself  again 
in  England,  and  at  a  country  fair.  Taking  in  his 
audience  at  a  glance,  I  saw  his  eye  rest  on  me  ere  it 
flitted,  and  he  resumed,  — 

"  We  gypsies  are,  as  you  know,  a  remarkable  race, 
and  possessed  of  certain  rare  secrets,  which  have  all 
been  formulated,  concentrated,  dictated,  and  plenipo- 
tentiarated  into  this  idealized  Elixir.  If  I  were  a 
mountebank  or  a  charlatan  I  would  claim  that  it 
cures  a  hundred  diseases.  Charlatan  is  a  French 
word  for  a  quack.  I  speak  French,  gentlemen ;  I 
speak  nine  languages,  and  can  tell  you  the  Hebrew 
for  an  old  umbrella.  The  Gypsy's  Elixir  cures  colds, 
gout,  all  nervous  affections,  with  such  cutaneous  disor- 
ders as  are  diseases  of  the  skin,  debility,  sterility, 
hostility,  and  all  the  illities  that  flesh  is  heir  to  except 
what  it  can't,  such  as  small-pox  and  cholera.  It  has 
cured  cholera,  but  it  don't  claim  to  do  it.  Others 
claim  to  cure,  but  can't.  I  am  not  a  charlatan,  but  an 
Ann-Eliza.  That  is  the  difference  between  me  and  a 
lady,  as  the  pig  said  when  he  astonished  his  missus 
by  blushing  at  her  remarks  to  the  postman.  (Better 
have  another  bottle,  sir.  Have  rft  you  the  change  ? 
Never  mind,  you  can  owe  me  fifty  cents.  I  know  a 
gentleman  when  I  see  one.)  I  was  recently  Down  East 
in  Maine,  where  they  are  so  patriotic,  they  all  put  the 
stars  and  stripes  into  their  beds  for  sheets,  have  the 
Fourth  of  July  three  hundred  and  sixty-five  times  in 


244  AMERICAN  GYPSIES. 

the  year,  and  eat  the  Declaration  of  Independence  fot 
breakfast.  And  they  would  n't  buy  a  bottle  of  my 
Gypsy's  Elixir  till  they  heard  it  was  good  for  the 
Constitution,  whereupon  they  immediately  purchased 
my  entire  stock.  Don't  lose  time  in  securing  this  in- 
valuable blessing  to  those  who  feel  occasional  pains 
in  the  lungs.  This  is  not  taradiddle.  I  am  engaged 
to  lecture  this  afternoon  before  the  Medical  Associa- 
tion of  Germantown,  as  on  Wednesday  before  the  Uni- 
versity of  Baltimore  ;  for  though  I  sell  medicine  here 
in  the  streets,  it  is  only,  upon  my  word  of  honor,  that 
the  poor  may  benefit,  and  the  lowly  as  well  as  the 
learned  know  how  to  prize  the  philanthropic  and  ec- 
centric gypsy." 

He  run  on  with  his  patter  for  some  time  in  this 
vein,  and  sold  several  vials  of  his  panacea,  and  then  in 
due  time  ceased,  and  went  into  a  bar-room,  which  I  also 
entered.  I  found  him  in  what  looked  like  prospective 
trouble,  for  a  policeman  was  insisting  on  purchasing 
his  medicine,  and  on  having  one  of  his  hand-bills.  He 
was  remonstrating,  when  I  quietly  said  to  him  in  Rom- 
any, "  Don't  trouble  yourself ;  you  were  not  mak- 
ing any  disturbance."  He  took  no  apparent  notice  of 
what  I  said  beyond  an  almost  imperceptible  wink, 
but  soon  left  the  room,  and  when  I  had  followed  him 
jito  the  street,  and  we  were  out  of  ear-shot,  he  sud- 
denly turned  on  me  and  said,  — 

"  Well,  you  are  a  swell,  for  a  Romany.  How  do 
you  do  it  up  to  such  a  high  peg?" 

"Do  what?" 

"  Do  the  whole  lay,  —  look  so  gorgeous  ?  " 

"Why,  I  'm  no  better  dressed  than  you  are,  —  not 
BO  well,  if  you  come  to  that  vongree1'  (waistcoat). 

"  'T  is  n't  that,  —  't  is  n't  the  clothes.     It 's  the  air 


THE  CROCUS-PITCHER.  245 

and  the  style.  Anybody  'd  believe  you  'd  had  no  end 
of  an  education.  I  could  make  ten  dollars  a  patter  if 
I  could  do  it  as  natural  as  you  do.  Perhaps  you  'd 
like  to  come  in  on  halves  with  me  as  a  bonnet.  No  ? 
Well,  I  suppose  you  have  a  better  line.  You  've  been 
lucky.  I  tell  you,  you  astonished  me  when  you  rak- 
kered,  though  I  spotted  you  in  the  crowd  for  one  who 
was  off  the  color  of  the  common  Gorgios,  —  or,  as  the 
Yahudi  say,  the  Croyim.  No,  I  carn't  rakker,  or  none 
to  speak  of,  and  noways  as  deep  as  you,  though  I  was 
born  in  a  tent  on  Battersea  Common  and  grew  up  a 
fly  fakir.  What 's  the  drab  made  of  that  I  sell  in 
these  bottles?  Why,  the  old  fake,  of  course, — you 
need  n't  say  you  don't  know  that.  I  talk  good  English. 
Yes,  I  know  I  do.  A  fakir  is  bothered  out  of  his  life 
and  chaffed  out  of  half  his  business  when  he  drops  his 
^'s.  A  man  can  do  anything  when  he  must,  and  I 
must  talk  fluently  and  correctly  to  succeed  in  such  a 
business.  Would  1  like  a  drop  of  something?  You 
paid  for  the  last,  now  you  must  take  a  drop  with  me. 
Do  I  know  of  any  Romanys  in  town?  Lots  of  them. 
There  is  a  ken  in  Lombard  Street  with  a  regular  fly 
mort,  —  but  on  second  thoughts  we  won't  go  there,  — 

and  —  oh,  I  say  —  a  very  nice  place  in  Street. 

The  landlord  is  a  Yahud ;  his  wife  can  rakker  you, 
I  'm  sure.  She  's  a  good  lot,  too." 

And  while  on  the  way  I  will  explain  that  my  ac- 
quaintance was  not  to  be  regarded  as  a  real  gypsy. 
He  was  one  of  that  large  nomadic  class  with  a  tinge 
of  gypsy  blood  who  have  grown  up  as  waifs  and  strays, 
and  who,  having  some  innate  cleverness,  do  the  best 
they  can  to  live  without  breaking  the  law  —  much. 
They  deserve  pity,  for  they  have  never  been  cared 
*or;  they  owe  nothing  to  society  for  kindness,  and 


246  AMERICAN  GYPSIES. 

yet  they  are  held  even  more  strictly  to  account 
by  the  law  than  if  they  had  been  regularly  Sunday- 
schooled  from  babyhood.  This  man  when  he  spoke 
of  Romanys  did  not  mean  real  gypsies ;  he  used  the 
word  as  it  occurs  in  Ainsworth's  song  of 

"Nix  my  dolly,  pals  fake  away. 
And  here  I  am  both  tight  and  free, 
A  regular  rollicking  Romany." 

For  he  meant  Bohemian  in  its  widest  and  wildest 
sense,  and  to  him  all  that  was  apart  from  the  world 
was  his  world,  whether  it  was  Rom  or  Yahudi,  and 
whether  it  conversed  in  Romany  or  Schmussen,  or 
any  other  tongue  unknown  to  the  Gentiles.  He  had 
indeed  no  home,  and  had  never  known  one. 

It  was  not  difficult  to  perceive  that  the  place  to 
which  he  led  me  was  devoted  in  the  off  hours  to  some 
other  business  besides  the  selling  of  liquor.  It  was 
neat  and  quiet,  in  fact  rather  sleepy ;  but  its  card, 
which  was  handed  to  me,  stated  in  a  large  capital 
head-line  that  it  was  OPEN  ALL  NIGHT,  and  that 
there  was  pool  at  all  hours.  I  conjectured  that  a  lit- 
tle game  might  also  be  performed  there  at  all  hours, 
and  that,  like  the  fountain  of  Jupiter  Ammon,  it  be- 
came livelier  as  it  grew  later,  and  that  it  certainly 
would  not  be  on  the  full  boil  before  midnight. 

"Scheikerfur  mich,  der  Isch  will  jam  soreff  shaske- 
nen  "  (Beer  for  me  and  brandy  for  him),  I  said  to  the 
landlord,  who  at  once  shook  my  hand  and  saluted  me 
with  tSholem  I  Even  so  did  Ben  Daoud  of  Jerusalem, 
not  long  ago.  Ben  knew  me  not,  and  I  was  buying 
a  pocket-book  of  him  at  his  open-air  stand  in  Market 
Street,  and  talking  German,  while  he  was  endeavor- 
ing to  convince  me  that  I  ought  to  give  five  centa 
more  for  it  than  I  had  given  for  a  similar  case  the 


THE   CROCUS-PITCHER.  247 

day  before,  on  the  ground  that  it  was  of  a  different 
color,  or  under  color  that  the  leather  had  a  different 
ground,  I  forget  which.  In  talking  I  let  fall  the  word 
kesef  (silver).  In  an  instant  Ben  had  taken  my  hand, 
and  said  Sholem  aleichum,  and  "  Can  you  talk  Span- 
ish ?  "  —  which  was  to  show  that  he  was  superfine 
Sephardi,  and  not  common  Ashkenaz. 

"Yes,"  resumed  the  crocus-fakir  ;  "a  man  must  be 
able  to  talk  English  very  fluently,  pronounce  it  cor- 
rectly, and,  above  all  things,  keep  his  temper,  if  he 
would  do  anything  that  requires  chanting  or  patter- 
ing. How  did  I  learn  it?  A  man  can  learn  to  do 
anything  when  it 's  business  and  his  living  depends  on 
it.  The  people  who  crowd  around  me  in  the  streets 
cannot  pronounce  English  decently;  not  one  in  a 
thousand  here  can  say  laugh,  except  as  a  sheep  says 
it.  Suppose  that  you  are  a  Cheap  Jack  selling  things 
from  a  van.  About  once  in  an  hour  some  tipsy  fel- 
low tries  to  chaff  you.  He  hears  your  tongue  going, 
and  that  sets  his  off.  He  hears  the  people  laugh  at 
your  jokes,  and  he  wants  them  to  laugh  at  his.  When 
you  say  you  're  selling  to  raise  money  for  a  burned- 
out  widow,  he  asks  if  she  is  n't  your  wife.  Then  you 
answer  him,  '  No,  but  the  kind-hearted  old  woman 
who  found  you  on  the  door-step  and  brought  you  up 
to  the  begging  business.'  If  you  say  you  are  selling 
goods  under  cost,  it 's  very  likely  some  yokel  will  cry 
out,  '  Stolen,  hey  ?  '  And  you  patter  as  quick  as  light- 
ning, 4  Very  likely  ;  I  thought  your  wife  sold  'em  to 
ine  too  cheap  for  the  good  of  somebody's  clothes-line.' 
If  you  show  yourself  his  superior  in  language  and  wit, 
the  people  will  buy  better ;  they  always  prefer  a  gen- 
tleman to  a  cad.  Bless  me!  why,  a  swell  in  a  dress- 
coat  and  kid  gloves,  with  good  patter  and  hatter,  can 


248  AMERICAN   GYPSIES. 

sell  a  hundred  rat-traps  while  a  dusty  cad  in  a  flash 
kingsman  would  sell  one.  As  for  the  replies,  most 
of  them  are  old  ones.  As  the  men  who  interrupt  you 
are  nearly  all  of  the  same  kind,  and  have  heads  of 
very  much  the  same  make,  with  an  equal  number  of 
corners,  it  follows  that  they  all  say  nearly  the  same 
things.  Why,  I  've  heard  two  duffers  cry  out  the 
same  thing  at  once  to  me.  So  you  soon  have  answers 
cut  and  dried  for  them.  We  call  'em  cocks,  because 
they  're  just  like  half-penny  ballads,  all  ready  printed, 
while  the  pitcher  always  has  the  one  you  want  ready 
at  his  finger-ends.  It  is  the  same  in  all  canting.  I 
knew  a  man  once  who  got  his  living  by  singing  of 
evenings  in  the  gaffs  to  the  piano,  and  making  up 
verses  on  the  gentlemen  and  ladies  as  they  came  in ; 
and  very  nice  verses  he  made,  too,  —  always  as  smooth 
as  butter.  How  do  you  do  it?  I  asked  him  one  day. 
'Well,  you  wouldn't  believe  it,'  said  he;  'but  they're 
mostly  cocks.  The  best  ones  I  buy  for  a  tanner  [six- 
pence] apiece.  If  a  tall  gentleman  with  a  big  beard 
comes  in,  I  strike  a  deep  chord  and  sing,  — 

"  '  This  tall  and  handsome  party, 

With  such  a  lot  of  hair, 
Who  seems  so  grand  and  hearty, 

Must  be  a  militaire; 
We  like  to  see  a  swell  come 

Who  looks  so  distinr/uf, 
So  let  us  bid  him  welcome, 

And  hope  he  '11  find  us  gay.' 

"  The  last  half  can  be  used  for  anybody.  That  *s 
the  way  the  improvisatory  business  is  manned  for 
visitors.  Why,  it's  the  same  with  fortune-telling. 
You  have  noticed  that.  Well,  if  the  Gorgios  had,  it 
would  have  been  all  up  with  the  fake  long  ago.  The 
>ld  woman  has  the  same  sort  of  girls  come  to  her 


THE   CROCUS-PITCHER.  249 

with  the  same  old  stories,  over  and  over  again,  and 
she  has  a  hundred  dodges  and  gets  a  hundred  straight 
tips  where  nobody  else  would  see  anything ;  and  of 
course  she  has  the  same  replies  all  ready.  There  is 
nothing  like  being  glib.  And  there  's  really  a  great 
deal  of  the  same  in  the  regular  doctor  business,  as  I 
know,  coining  close  on  to  it  and  calling  myself  one. 
Why,  I  've  been  called  into  a  regular  consultation  in 
Chicago,  where  I  had  an  office,  —  'pon  my  honor  I 
was,  and  no  great  honor  neither.  It  was  all  patter, 
and  I  pattered  'em  dumb." 

I  began  to  think  that  the  fakir  could  talk  forever 
and  ever  faster.  If  he  excelled  in  his  business,  he 
evidently  practiced  at  all  times  to  do  so.  I  intimated 
as  much,  and  he  at  once  proceeded  fluently  to  illus- 
trate this  point  also. 

"  You  hear  men  say  every  day  that  if  they  only  had 
an  education  they  would  do  great  things.  What  it 
would  all  come  to  with  most  of  them  is  that  they 
would  talk  so  as  to  shut  other  men  up  and  astonish 
'em.  They  have  not  an  idea  above  that.  I  never 
had  any  schooling  but  the  roads  and  race-grounds, 
but  I  can  talk  the  hat  off  a  lawyer,  and  that 's  all  I 
can  do.  Any  man  of  them  could  talk  well  if  he 
tried ;  but  none  of  them  will  try,  and  so  they  go 
through  life,  telling  you  how  clever  they  'd  have  been 
if  somebody  else  had  only  done  something  for  them, 
instead  of  doing  something  for  themselves.  So  you 
must  be  going.  Well,  I  hope  I  shall  see  you  again. 
Tust  come  up  when  you  're  going  by  and  say  that 
your  wife  was  raised  from  the  dead  by  my  Elixir,  and 
that  it 's  the  best  medicine  you  ever  had.  And  if  you 
want  to  see  some  regular  tent  gypsies,  there  's  a  camp 
of  them  now  just  four  miles  from  here ;  real  old  style 


250  AMERICAN  GYPSIES. 

Romanys.  Go  out  on  the  road  four  miles,  and  you  '11 
find  them  just  off  the  side,  —  anybody  will  show  you 
the  place.  Sarishan  !  " 

I  was  sorry  to  read  in  the  newspaper,  a  few  days 
after,  that  the  fakir  had  been  really  arrested  and  im- 
prisoned for  selling  a  quack  medicine.  For  in  this 
land  of  liberty  it  makes  an  enormous  difference 
whether  you  sell  by  advertisement  in  the  newspapers 
or  on  the  sidewalk,  which  shows  that  there  is  one  law 
for  the  rich  and  another  for  the  poor,  even  in  a  re- 
public. 


III. 

GYPSIES  IN  CAMP. 
(NEW  JERSEY.) 

THE  Weather  had  put  on  his  very  worst  clothes, 
and  was  never  so  hard  at  work  for  the  agricultural 
interests,  or  so  little  inclined  to  see  visitors,  as  on  the 
Sunday  afternoon  when  I  started  gypsying.  The 
rain  and  the  wind  were  fighting  one  with  another, 
and  both  with  the  mud,  even  as  the  Jews  in  Jerusa- 
lem fought  with  themselves,  and  both  with  the  Ro- 
mans, —  which  was  the  time  when  the  Shaket,  or 
butcher,  killed  the  ox  who  drank  the  water  which 
quenched  the  fire  which  the  reader  has  often  heard 
all  about,  yet  not  knowing,  perhaps,  that  the  house 
which  Jack  built  was  the  Holy  Temple  of  Jerusalem. 
It  was  with  such  reflections  that  I  beguiled  time  on 
a  long  walk,  for  which  I  was  not  unfitly  equipped  in 
corduroy  trousers,  with  a  long  Ulster  and  a  most 
disreputable  cap  befitting  a  stable-boy.  The  rig,  how- 
ever, kept  out  the  wet,  and  I  was  too  recently  from 
England  to  care  much  that  it  was  raining.  I  had 
seen  the  sun  on  color  about  thirty  times  altogether 
during  the  past  year,  and  so  had  not  as  yet  learned 
to  miss  him.  It  is  on  record  that  when  the  Shah 
was  in  England  a  lady  said  to  him,  "  Can  it  be  pos- 
sible, your  highness,  that  there  are  in  your  dominions 
people  who  worship  the  sun  ?  "  "  Yes,"  replied  the 
monarch,  musingly;  "and  so  would  you,  if  you  could 
•nly  see  him." 


252  AMERICAN   GYPSIES. 

The  houses  became  fewer  as  I  went  on,  till  at  last 
I  reached  the  place  near  which  I  knew  the  gypsies 
must  be  camped.  As  is  their  custom  in  England, 
they  had  so  established  themselves  as  not  to  be  seen 
from  the  road.  The  instinct  which  they  display  in 
thus  getting  near  people,  and  yet  keeping  out  of  their 
sight,  even  as  rats  do,  is  remarkable.  I  thought  I 
knew  the  town  of  Brighton,  in  England,  thoroughly, 
and  had  explored  all  its  nooks,  and  wondered  that  I 
had  never  found  any  gypsies  there.  One  day  I  went 
out  with  a  Romany  acquaintance,  who,  in  a  short 
time,  took  me  to  half  a  dozen  tenting-places,  round 
corners  in  mysterious  by-ways.  It  often  happens 
that  the  spots  which  they  select  to  Tiateh  the  tan,  or 
pitch  the  tent,  are  picturesque  bits,  such  as  artists 
love,  and  all  gypsies  are  fully  appreciative  of  beauty 
in  this  respect.  It  is  not  a  week,  as  I  write,  since  I 
heard  an  old  horse-dealing  veteran  of  the  roads  apol- 
ogize to  me  with  real  feeling  for  the  want  of  a  view 
near  his  tent,  just  as  any  other  man  might  have  ex- 
cused the  absence  of  pictures  from  his  walls.  The 
most  beautiful  spot  for  miles  around  Williamsport,  in 
Pennsylvania,  a  river  dell,  which  any  artist  would 
give  a  day  to  visit,  is  the  favorite  camping-ground  of 
the  Romany.  Woods  and  water,  rocks  and  loneliness, 
make  it  lovely  by  day,  and  when,  at  eventide,  the  fire 
of  the  wanderers  lights  up  the  scene,  it  also  lights 
up  in  the  soul  many  a  memory  of  tents  in  the  wilder- 
ness, of  pictures  in  the  Louvre,  of  Arabs  and  of  Wou- 
vermamiH  and  belated  walks  by  the  Thames,  and  of 
Salvator  Rosa.  Ask  me  why  I  haunt  gypsydom  » 
It  has  put  me  into  a  thousand  sympathies  with  nat- 
ure and  art,  which  I  had  never  known  without  it. 
The  Romany,  like  the  red  Indian,  and  all  who  dwel. 


GYPSIES  IN  CAMP.  258 

by  wood  and  wold  as  outlawes  wont  to  do,  are  the 
best  human  links  to  bind  us  to  their  home-scenery, 
and  lead  us  into  its  inner  life.  What  constitutes  the 
antithetic  charm  of  those  wonderful  lines, 

"  Afar  iu  the  desert,  I  love  to  ride, 
With  the  silent  bush-boy  alone  by  my  side/' 

but  the  presence  of  the  savage  who  belongs  to  the 
scene,  and  whose  being  binds  the  poet  to  it,  and 
blends  him  with  it  as  the  flux  causes  the  fire  to  melt 
the  gold  ? 

I  left  the  road,  turned  the  corner,  and  saw  before 
me  the  low,  round  tents,  with  smoke  rising  from  the 
tops,  dark  at  first  and  spreading  into  light  gray,  like 
scalp-locks  and  feathers  upon  Indian  heads.  Near 
them  were  the  gayly-painted  vans,  in  which  I  at  once 
observed  a  difference  from  the  more  substantial-look- 
ing old-country  vardo.  The  whole  scene  was  so  Eng- 
lish that  I  felt  a  flutter  at  the  heart :  it  was  a  bit 
from  over  the  sea  ;  it  seemed  as  if  hedge-rows  should 
have  been  round,  and  an  old  Gothic  steeple  looking 
over  the  trees.  I  thought  of  the  last  gypsy  camp  I 
had  seen  near  Henley-on-Thames,  and  wished  Plato 
Buckland  were  with  me  to  share  the  fun  which  one 
was  always  sure  to  have  on  such  an  occasion  in  his 
eccentric  company.  But  now  Plato  was,  like  his  fa- 
ther in  the  song, 

"  Ditro  pardel  the  boro  pani" 
Far  away  over  the  broad-rolling  sea, 

and  I  must  introduce  myself.  There  was  not  a  sign 
of  life  about,  save  in  a  sorrowful  hen,  who  looked 
as  if  she  felt  bitterly  what  it  was  to  be  a  Pariah 
among  poultry  and  a  down-pin,  and  who  cluttered  as 
If  she  might  have  had  a  history  of  being  borne  from 
her  bower  in  the  dark  midnight  by  desperate  African 


254  AMERICAN  GYPSIES. 

reivers,  of  a  wild  moonlit  flitting  and  crossing  black 
roaring  torrents,  drawn  all  the  while  by  the  neck,  as  a 
Turcoman  pulls  a  Persian  prisoner  on  an  "alaman," 
with  a  rope,  into  captivity,  and  finally  of  being  sold 
unto  the  Egyptians.  I  drew  near  a  tent :  all  was 
silent,  as  it  always  is  in  a  tan  when  the  foot-fall  of 
the  stranger  is  heard  ;  but  I  knew  that  it  was  packed 
with  inhabitants. 

I  called  in  Romany  my  greeting,  and  bade  some- 
body come  out.  And  there  appeared  a  powerfully 
buiU,  dark-browed,  good-looking  man  of  thirty,  who 
was  as  gypsy  as  Plato  himself.  He  greeted  me  very 
civilly,  but  with  some  surprise,  and  asked  me  what 
he  could  do  for  me. 

"'Ask  me  in  out  of  the  rain,  pal,"  I  replied.  "  You 
don't  suppose  I  've  come  four  miles  to  see  you  and 
stop  out  here,  do  you  ?  " 

This  was,  indeed,  reasonable,  and  I  was  invited  to 
enter,  which  I  did,  and  found  myself  in  a  scene  which 
would  have  charmed  Callot  or  Goya.  There  was  no 
door  or  window  to  the  black  tent ;  what  light  there 
was  came  through  a  few  rifts  and  rents  and  mingled 
witli  the  dull  gleam  of  a  smoldering  fire,  producing  ji 
perfect  Rembrandt  blending  of  rosy-red  with  dreamy 
half-darkness.  It  was  a  real  witch-aura,  and  the  den- 
izens were  worthy  of  it.  As  my  eyes  gradually  grew 
to  the  gloom,  I  saw  that  on  one  side  four  brown  old 
Romany  sorceresses  were  "  beshui<j  apre  ye  pus  "  (sit- 
ting on  the  straw),  as  the  song  has  it,  with  deeper 
masses  of  darkness  behind  them,  in  which  other  forms 
were  barely  visible.  Their  black  eyes  all  flashed  up 
together  at  me,  like  those  of  a  row  of  eagles  in  a 
;  and  I  saw  in  a  second  that,  witli  men  and  all 
I  was  in  a  party  who  were  anything  but  milksops 


GYPSIES  IN  CAMP.  255 

in  fact,  with  as  regularly  determined  a  lot  of  hard 
old  Romanys  as  ever  battered  a  policeman.  I  confess 
that  a  feeling  like  a  thrill  of  joy  came  over  me  —  a 
memory  of  old  days  and  by-gone  scenes  over  the 
sea  —  when  I  saw  this,  and  knew  they  were  not  did- 
dikais,  or  half-breed  mumpers.  On  the  other  side, 
several  young  people,  among  them  three  or  four  good- 
looking  girls,  were  eating  their  four-o'clock  meal 
from  a  canvas  spread  on  the  ground.  There  were 
perhaps  twenty  persons  in  the  place,  including  the 
children  who  swarmed  about. 

Even  in  a  gypsy  tent  something  depends  on  the 
style  of  a  self-introduction  by  a  perfect  stranger. 
Stepping  forward,  I  divested  myself  of  my  Ulster, 
and  handed  it  to  a  nice  damsel,  giving  her  special 
injunction  to  fold  it  up  and  lay  it  by.  My  mise  en 
scene  appeared  to  meet  with  approbation,  and  I  stood 
forth  and  remarked,  — 

"  Here  I  am,  glad  to  see  you ;  and  if  you  want  to 
see  a  regular  Romany  rye  [gypsy  gentleman],  just 
over  from  England,  now  's  your  chance.  Sarizhan!" 

And  I  received,  as  I  expected,  a  cordial  welcome. 
I  was  invited  to  sit  down  and  eat,  but  excused  myself 
as  having  just  come  from  hdbben,  or  food,  and  settled 
myself  to  a  cigar.  But  while  everybody  was  polite, 
I  felt  that  under  it  all  there  was  a  reserve,  a  chill. 
I  was  altogether  too  heavy  a  mystery.  I  knew  my 
friends,  and  they  did  not  know  me.  Something,  how- 
ever, now  took  place  which  went  far  to  promote  con- 
viviality. The  tent-flap  was  lifted,  and  there  entered 
an  elderly  woman,  who,  as  a  gypsy,  might  have  been 
the  other  four  in  one,  she  was  so  quadruply  dark,  so 
fourfold  uncanny,  so  too-too  witch-like  in  her  eyes. 
The  others  had  so  far  been  reserved  as  to  speaking 


256  AMERICAN  GYPSIES. 

Romany;  she,  glancing  at  me  keenly,  began  at  once 
to  talk  it  very  fluently,  without  a  word  of  English, 
with  the  intention  of  testing  me  ;  but  as  I  understood 
her  perfectly,  and  replied  with  a  burning  gush  of  the 
same  language,  being,  indeed,  glad  to  have  at  last 
"  got  into  my  plate,"  we  were  friends  in  a  minute 
I  did  not  know  then  that  I  was  talking  with  a  celeb- 
rity whose  name  has  even  been  groomily  recorded  in 
an  English  book ;  but  I  found  at  once  that  she  was 
truly  "  a  character."  She  had  manifestly  been  sent 
for  to  test  the  stranger,  and  I  knew  this,  and  made 
myself  agreeable,  and  was  evidently  found  tacho,  or 
all  right.  It  being  a  rule,  in  fact,  with  few  excep- 
tions, that  when  you  really  like  people,  in  a  friendly 
way,  and  are  glad  to  be  among  them,  they  never  fail 
to  find  it  out,  and  the  jury  always  comes  to  a  favor- 
able verdict. 

And  so  we  sat  and  talked  on  in  the  monotone  in 
which  Romany  is  generally  spoken,  like  an  Indian 
song,  while,  like  an  Indian  drum,  the  rain  puttered 
an  accompaniment  on  the  tightly  drawn  tent.  Those 
who  live  in  cities,  and  who  are  always  realizing  self, 
and  thinking  how  they  think,  and  are  while  awake 
given  up  to  introverting  vanity,  never  live  in  song. 
To  do  this  one  must  be  a  child,  an  Indian,  a  dweller 
in  fields  and  green  forests,  a  brother  of  the  rain  and 
road-puddles  and  rolling  streams,  and  a  friend  of 
the  rustling  leaves  and  the  summer  orchestra  of  frogs 
and  crickets  and  rippling  ^rass.  Those  who  hear 
this  music  and  think  to  it  never  think  about  it; 
those  who  live  only  in  books  never  sing  to  it  in  soul. 
As  there  are  dreams  which  will  not  be  remembered 
or  known  to  reason,  so  this  music  shrinks  from  it.  It 
is  wonderful  how  beauty  perishes  like  a  shade-grown 


GYPSIES  IN   CAMP.  257 

flower  before  the  sunlight  of  analysis.  It  is  dying 
out  all  the  world  over  in  women,  under  the  influence 
of  cleverness  and  "  style ; "  it  is  perishing  in  poetry 
and  art  before  criticism ;  it  is  wearing  away  from  man- 
liness, through  priggishness ;  it  is  being  crushed  out 
of  true  gentleness  of  heart  and  nobility  of  soul  by 
the  pessimist  puppyism  of  miching  Malloekos.  But 
nature  is  eternal  and  will  return.  When  man  has 
run  one  of  his  phases  of  culture  fairly  to  the  end, 
and  when  the  fruit  is  followed  by  a  rattling  rococo 
husk,  then  comes  a  winter  sleep,  from  which  he 
awakens  to  grow  again  as  a  child-flower.  We  are  at 
the  very  worst  of  such  a  time ;  but  there  is  a  morn- 
ing redness  far  away,  which  shows  that  the  darkness 
is  ending,  the  winter  past,  the  rain  is  over  and  gone. 
Arise,  and  come  away  ! 

"  Sossi  kair'd  tute  to  av'akai  pardel  o  boro  pani?" 
(And  what  made  you  come  here  across  the  broad 
water  ?)  said  the  good  old  dame  confidentially  and 
kindly,  in  the  same  low  monotone.  "  Si  lesti  chorin 
a  gry  ?  "  (Was  it  stealing  a  horse  ?) 

Dum,  dum,  dum,  patter,  patter,  dum  !  played  the 
rain. 

"  Avali  I  dikked  your  romus  kaliko  "  (I  saw  your 
husband  yesterday),  remarked  some  one  aside  to  a 
girl. 

Dum,  dum,  dum,  patter,  patter,  dum  ! 

"  No,  mother  deari,  it  was  not  a  horse,  for  I  am  on 
a  better,  higher  lay." 

Dum,  dum,  dum,  patter,  patter,  dum  ! 

"  He  is  a  first-rate  dog,  but  mine  's  as  good." 

Dum,  dum,  dum,  patter,  dum! 

"  Tacho  !     There  's  money  to  be  made  by  a  gen- 
tleman like  you  by  telling  fortunes." 
17 


258  AMERICAN   GYPSIES. 

Dum,  dum,  dum,  patter,  dum  ! 

"  Yes,  a  five-hund red-dollar  hit  sometimes.  But, 
tye,  I  work  upon  a  better  lay." 

Dum,  dum,  dum,  patter,  dum  ! 

"  Perhaps  you  are  a  boro  drabengro  "  (a  great 
physician). 

Dum,  dum,  dum,  patter,  dum  I 

"  It  was  away  among  the  rocks  that  he  fell  into 
the  reeds,  half  in  the  water,  and  kept  still  till  they 
went  by." 

"  If  any  one  is  ill  among  you,  I  may  be  of  use." 

Dum,  dum,  dum,  patter,  dum  ! 

"  And  what  a  wind  !  It  blows  as  if  the  good  Lord 
were  singing  I  Kusbti  chirus  se  atch  a-kerri." 
(This  is  a  pleasant  day  to  be  at  home.) 

Dum,  dum,  dum,  patter,  dum  ! 

"I  thought  you  were  a  doctor,  for  you  were  going 
about  in  the  town  with  the  one  who  sells  medicine. 
I  heard  of  it." 

Dum,  dum,  dum,  patter,  dum  ! 

"  Do  not  hurry  away  !  Come  again  and  see  us.  I 
think  the  Coopers  are  all  out  in  Ohio." 

Dum,  dum,  dum,  patter,  dum  ! 

The  cold  wind  and  slight  rain  seemed  refreshing 
and  even  welcome,  as  I  went  out  into  the  cold  air. 
The  captain  showed  me  his  stock  of  fourteen  horses 
and  mules,  and  we  interchanged  views  as  to  the  best 
method  of  managing  certain  maladies  in  such  stock. 
I  had  been  most  kindly  entertained  ;  indeed,  with  the 
home  kindliness  which  good  people  in  the  country 
show  to  some  hitherto  unseen  and  unknown  relative 
who  descends  to  them  from  the  great  world  of  the 
city.  Not  but  that  my  friends  did  not  know  cities 
and  men  as  well  as  Ulysses,  but  even  Ulysses  some* 


GYPSIES  IN  GAMP.  259 

times  met  with  a  marvel.  In  after  days  I  became 
quite  familiar  with  the  several  families  who  made  the 
camp,  and  visited  them  in  sunshine.  But  they  al- 
ways occur  to  me  in  memory  as  in  a  deep  Rembrandt 
picture,  a  wonderful  picture,  and  their  voices  as  in 
vocal  chiaroscuro ;  singing  to  the  wind  without  and 
the  rain  on  the  tent,  — 

Z,  dum,  dum,  patter ',  dum  ! 


IV. 

HOUSE  GYPSIES  IN  PHILADELPHIA. 

THIS  chapter  was  written  by  my  niece  through 
marriage,  Miss  Elizabeth  Robins.  It  is  a  part  of  an 
article  which  was  published  in  "  The  Century,"  and  it 
sets  forth  certain  wanderings  in  seeking  old  houses  in 
the  city  of  Philadelphia. 

All  along  the  lower  part  of  Race  Street,  saith  the 
lady,  are  wholesale  stores  and  warehouses  of  every 
description.  Some  carts  belonging  to  one  of  them 
had  just  been  unloaded.  The  stevedores  who  do  this 
—  all  negroes  —  were  resting  while  they  waited  for 
the  next  load.  They  were  great  powerful  men,  se- 
lected for  their  strength,  and  were  of  many  hues,  from 
cafe  au  lait,  or  coffee  much  milked,  up  to  the  browned 
or  black-scorched  berry  itself,  while  the  very  athletce 
were  coal-black.  They  wore  blue  overalls,  and  on 
their  heads  they  had  thrown  old  coffee-bags,  which, 
resting  on  their  foreheads,  passed  behind  their  ears 
and  hung  loosely  down  their  backs.  It  was  in  fact 
the  liaik  or  bag-cloak  of  the  East,  and  it  made  a  won- 
derfully effective  Arab  costume.  One  of  them  was 
half  leaning,  half  sitting,  on  a  pile  of  bags  ;  his  Her- 
culean arms  were  folded,  and  he  had  unconsciously 
assumed  an  air  of  dignity  and  defiance.  He  might 
have  passed  for  an  African  chief.  When  we  see  such 
men  in  Egypt  or  other  sunny  countries  outre  mer, 
we  become  artistically  eloquent ;  tut  it  rarely  occurs 


HOUSE   GYPSIES  IN  PHILADELPHIA.        261 

to  sketches  and  word-painters  to  do  much  business 
in  the  home-market. 

The  mixture  of  races  in  our  cities  is  rapidly  increas- 
ing, and  we  hardly  notice  it.  Yet  it  is  coming  to  pass 
that  a  large  part  of  our  population  is  German  and 
Irish,  and  that  our  streets  within  ten  years  have  be- 
come fuller  of  Italian  fruit  dealers  and  organ-grinders, 
so  that  Gives  sum  Romanus  (I  am  a  Roman  citizen), 
when  abroad,  now  means  either  "  I  possess  a  monkey  " 
or" I  sell  pea-nuts."  Jews  from  Jerusalem  peddle 
pocket-books  on  our  sidewalks,  Chinamen  are  monop- 
lizing  our  washing  and  ironing,  while  among  labor- 
ing classes  are  thousands  of  Scandinavians,  Bohemi- 
ans, and  other  Slaves.  The  prim  provincial  element 
which  predominated  in  my  younger  years  is  yielding 
before  this  influx  of  foreigners,  and  Quaker  monotony 
and  stern  conservatism  are  vanishing,  while  Philadel- 
phia becomes  year  by  year  more  cosmopolite. 

As  we  left  the  handsome  negroes  and  continued 
our  walk  on  Water  Street  an  Italian  passed  us.  He 
was  indeed  very  dirty  and  dilapidated ;  his  clothes 
were  of  the  poorest,  and  he  carried  a  rag-picker's  bag 
over  his  shoulder ;  but  his  face,  as  he  turned  it  towards 
us,  was  really  beautiful. 

"  Siete  Italiano  ?  "  (Are  you  an  Italian?)  asked 
my  uncle. 

"  Si,  signore  "  (Yes,  sir),  he  answered,  showing  all 
his  white  teeth,  and  opening  his  big  brown  eyes  very 
wide. 

"  E  come  lei  place  questo  paese  ?  "  (And  how  do 
you  like  this  country  ?) 

"Not  at  all.  It  is  too  cold,"  was  his  frank  answer, 
and  laughing  good-humoredly  he  continued  his  search 
through  the  gutters.  He  would  have  made  a  good 


262  AMERICAN  GYPSIES. 

model  for  an  artist,  for  he  had  what  we  do  not  always 
see  in  Italians,  the  real  southern  beauty  of  face  and 
expression.  Two  or  three  weeks  after  this  encounter, 
we  were  astonished  at  meeting  on  Chestnut  Street  a 
little  man,  decently  dressed,  who  at  once  manifested 
the  most  extraordinary  and  extravagant  symptoms  of 
delighted  recognition.  Never  saw  I  mortal  so  grin-fall, 
so  bowing.  As  we  went  on  and  crossed  the  street, 
and  looked  back,  he  was  waving  his  hat  in  the  air 
with  one  hand,  while  he  made  gestures  of  delight 
with  the  other.  It  was  the  little  Italian  rag-picker. 

Then  along  and  afar,  till  we  met  a  woman,  decently 
enough  dressed,  with  jet-black  eyes  and  hair,  and  look- 
ing not  unlike  a  gypsy.  "  A  Romany  !  "  I  cried 
with  delight.  Her  red  shawl  made  me  think  of  gyp- 
sies, and  when  I  caught  her  eye  I  saw  the  indescrib- 
ble  flash  of  the  Jcdlorat,  or  black  blood.  It  is  very 
curious  that  Hindus,  IVrsiuns,  and  gypsies  have  in 
common  an  expression  of  the  eye  which  distinguishes 
them  from  all  other  Oriental  races,  and  chief  in  this 
expression  is  the  Romany.  Captain  Newbold,  who 
first  investigated  the  gypsies  of  Egypt,  declares  that, 
however  disguised,  he  could  always  detect  them  by 
their  glance,  which  is  unlike  that  of  any  other  human 
being,  though  something  resembling  it  is  often  seen 
in  the  ruder  type  of  the  rural  American.  I  believe 
myself  that  there  is  something  in  the  gypsy  eye  which 
is  inexplicable,  and  which  enables  its  possessor  to  see 
farther  through  that  strange  mill-stone,  the  human 
soul,  than  I  can  explain.  Any  one  who  has  ever  seen 
an  old  fortune-teller  of  "  the  people  "  keeping  some 
simple-minded  maiden  by  the  hand,  while  she  holds  her 
by  her  glittering  eye,  like  the  Ancient  Mariner,  with 
a  basilisk  stare,  will  agree  with  me.  As  Scheele  de 


HOUSE  GYPSIES  IN  PHILADELPHIA.        263 

Vere  writes,  "  It  must  not  be  forgotten  that  the  hu- 
man eye  has,  beyond  question,  often  a  power  which 
far  transcends  the  ordinary  purposes  of  sight,  and 
approaches  the  boundaries  of  magic." 

But  one  glance,  and  my  companion  whispered, 
"Answer  me  in  Romany  when  I  speak,  and  don't 
seem  to  notice  her."  And  then,  in  loud  tone,  he  re- 
marked, while  looking  across  the  street,  — 

"  Adovo  's  a  kushto  puro  rinkeno  ker  adoi."  (That 
is  a  nice  old  pretty  house  there.) 

"  Avali,  rya  "  (Yes,  sir),  I  replied. 

There  was  a  perceptible  movement  by  the  woman 
in  the  red  shawl  to  keep  within  ear-shot  of  us.  Mine 
uncle  resumed,  — 

"  Boro  kushto  covva  se  ta  rakker  a  jib  te  kek  G-orgio 
nnella"  (It 's  nice  to  talk  a  language  that  no  Gen- 
tile knows.) 

The  red  shawl  was  on  the  trail.  "  Je  crois  que 
go,  mord"  remarked  my  uncle.  We  allowed  our  artist 
guide  to  pass  on,  when,  as  I  expected,  I  felt  a  twitch 
at  my  outer  garment.  I  turned,  and  the  witch  eyes, 
distended  with  awe  and  amazement,  were  glaring 
into  mine,  while  she  said,  in  a  hurried  whisper,  — 

"  Was  n't  it  Romanes  ?  " 

"  Avah"  I  replied,  "mendui  rakker  sarja  adovo 
lib.  Butikumi  ryeskro  Us  se  denna  (jrorgines"  (Yes, 
we  always  talk  that  language.  Much  more  genteel 
it  is  than  English.) 

"  Te  adovo  wavero  rye  ?  "  (And  that  other  gentle- 
man ?)  with  a  glance  of  suspicion  at  our  artist 
friend. 

"  Sar  tacho  "  (He 's  all  right),  remarked  mine  uncle, 
which  I  greatly  fear  meant,  when  correctly  translated 
in  a  Christian  sense,  "  He  's  all  wrong."  But  there 


264  AMERICAN  GYPSIES. 

is  a  natural  sympathy  and  intelligence  between  Bo- 
hemians of  every  grade,  all  the  world  over,  and  I 
never  knew  a  gypsy  who  did  not  understand  an  art- 
ist. One  glance  satisfied  her  that  he  was  quite 
worthy  of  our  society. 

"And  where  are  you  tannin  kennd?"  (tenting 
now),  I  inquired. 

"  We  are  not  tenting  at  this  time  of  year  ;  we  're 
ktiiriii,"  i.  «.,  house-ing,  or  home-ing.  It  is  a  good 
verb,  and  might  be  introduced  into  English. 

"  And  where  is  your  house  ?  " 

"  There,  right  by  Mammy  Sauerkraut's  Row.  Come 
in  and  sit  down.'* 

I  need  not  give  the  Romany  which  was  spoken, 
but  will  simply  translate.  The  house  was  like  all  the 
others.  We  passed  through  a  close,  dark  passage, 
in  which  lay  cam  as  and  poles,  a  kettle  and  a  sarshta, 
or  the  iron  which  is  stuck  into  the  ground,  and  by 
which  a  kettle  hangs.  The  old-fashioned  tripod,  pop- 
ularly supposed  to  be  used  by  gypsies,  in  all  proba- 
bility never  existed,  since  the  Roms  of  India  to-day 
use  the  xarshta,  as  mine  uncle  tells  me  he  learned 
from  a  ci-devant  Indian  gypsy  Dacoit,  or  wandering 
thief,  who  was  one  of  his  intimates  in  London. 

\Ye  entered  an  inner  room,  and  I  was  at  once 
struck  by  its  general  indescribable  unlikeness  to  or- 
dinary rooms.  Architects  declare  that  the  type  of 
the  tent  is  to  be  distinctly  found  in  all  Chinese  and 
Arab  or  Turkish  architecture  ;  it  is  also  as  marked 
in  a  gypsy's  house  —  when  he  gets  one.  This  room, 
which  was  evidently  the  common  home  of  a  large 
family,  suggested,  in  its  arrangement  of  furniture 
and  the  manner  in  which  its  occupants  sat  around 
the  tent  and  the  wagon.  There  was  a  bed,  it  is  true, 


HOUSE   GYPSIES  IN  PIllLAhLLI'llI A.         265 

but  then-  was  a  roll  of  .sail-doth,  which  evidently  did 
duty  for  sleeping  on  at  night,  but  which  now,  rolled 
up,  acted  the  part  described  by  Goldsmith :  — 

"A  thin;.  I  double  part  to  play, 

A  bed  by  night,  a  sofa  daring  day." 

There  was  one  chair  and  a  saddle,  a  stove  and  a 
chest  of  drawers.  I  observed  an  engraving  han 
up  which  I  have  several  times  seen  in  gypsy  tents. 
It  represents  a  very  dark  Italian  youth.  It  is  a  fa- 
vorite also  with  Roman  Catholics,  because  the 
has  a  consecrated  medal.  The  gypsies,  however,  be- 
lieve that  the  boy  stole  the  medal.  The  Catholics 
think  the  picture  is  that  of  a  Roman  boy,  because 
the  inscription  says  so ;  and  th<:  gypsies  call  it  a 
Romany,  so  that  all  are  satisfied.  There  were  some 
eight  or  nine  children  in  the  room,  and  among  them 
more  than  one  whose  resemblance  to  the  dark-skinned 
saint  might  have  given  color  enough  to  the  theory 

that  he  was 

"  One  whose  blood 
Had  rolled  through  gypsies  ever  since  the  flood." 

There  was  also  a  girl,  of  the  pantherine  type,  and 
one  damsel  of  about  ten,  who  had  light  hair  and 
fair  complexion,  but  whose  air  was  gypsy  and  whose 
youthful  countenance  suggested  not  the  golden,  but 
\he  brazenest,  age  of  life.  Scarcely  was  I  seated  in 
the  only  chair,  when  this  little  maiden,  after  keenly 
scrutinizing  my  appearance,  and  apparently  taking 
in  the  situation,  came  up  to  me  and  said,  — 

"  Yer  come  here  to  have  yer  fortune  told.  I  ;li 
tell  it  to  yer  for  five  cents." 

"  Can  titie  pen  dukkerin  aja  ?  "  (Can  you  tell  fort- 
unes  already  ?)  I  inquired.  And  if  that  damsel  had 
been  lifted  at  that  instant  by  the  hair  into  the  infi- 


266  AMERICAN  GYPSIES. 

nite  glory  of  the  seventh  sphere,  her  countenance 
could  not  have  manifested  more  amazement.  She 
stood  bouche  beante,  stock  still  staring,  open-mouthed 
wide.  I  believe  one  might  have  put  a  brandy  ball 
into  it,  or  a  "bull's  eye,"  without  her  jaws  closing 
on  the  dainty.  It  was  a  stare  of  twenty-four  carats, 
and  fourth  proof. 

'4  This  here  rye"  remarked  mine  uncle,  affably,  in 
middle  English,  "  is  a  hartist.  He  puts  'is  heart  into 
all  he  does;  that 's  why.  He  ain't  Romanes,  but  he 
may  be  trusted.  He  's  come  here,  that  wot  he  has, 
to  draw  this  'ere  Mammy  Sauerkraut's  Row,  because 
it 's  interestin'.  He  ain't  a  tax-gatherer.  We  don't 
approve  o'  payin'  taxes,  none  of  hus.  We  practices 
heconomy,  and  dislike  the  po-lice.  Who  was  Mammy 
Sauerkraut  ?  " 

"  I  know  ! "  cried  the  youthful  would-be  fortune- 
teller. "  She  was  a  witch." 

"  Tool  yer  cliib  !  "  (Hold  your  tongue  !)  cried  the 
parent.  "  Don't  bother  the  lady  with  stories  about 
chovihanis  "  (witches). 

"  But  that's  just  what  I  want  to  hear  !  "  I  cried. 
"  Go  on,  my  little  dear,  about  Mammy  Sauerkraut, 
and  you  will  get  your  five  cents  yet,  if  you  only  give 
me  enough  of  it." 

"  Well,  then,  Mammy  Sauerkraut  was  a  witch,  and 
H,  little  black  girl  who  lives  next  door  told  me  so. 
And  Mammy  Sauerkraut  used  to  change  herself  into 
a  pig  of  nights,  and  that 's  why  they  called  her 
Sauerkraut.  This  was  because  they  had  pig  ketchers 
going  about  in  those  times,  and  once  they  ketched 
a  pig  that  belonged  to  her,  and  to  be  revenged  on 
them  she  used  to  look  like  a  pig,  and  they  would 
follow  her  clear  out  of  town  way  up  the  river,  and 


HOUSE   GYPSIES  IN  PHILADELPHIA.        2o7 

she  'd  run,  and  they  'd  ran  after  her,  till  by  and  by 
fire  would  begin  to  fly  out  of  her  bristles,  and  she 
jumped  into  the  river  and  sizzed." 

This  I  thought  worthy  of  the  five  cents.  Then  my 
uncle  began  to  put  questions  in  Romany. 

"  Where  is  Anselo  W.  ?  He  that  was  staruben  for 
a  gry  ?"  (imprisoned  for  a  horse). 

"  Staruben  apopli"     (Imprisoned  again.) 

"  I  am  sorry  for  it,  sister  Nell.  He  used  to  play 
the  fiddle  well.  I  wot  he  was  a  canty  chiel',  and 
dearly  lo'ed  the  whusky,  oh  ! " 

"  Yes,  he  was  too  fond  of  that.  How  well  he  could 
play  ! " 

"  Yes,"  said  my  uncle,  "  he  could.  And  I  have 
sung  to  his  fiddling  when  the  tatto-pdni  [hot  water, 
{.  e.,  spirits]  boiled  within  us,  and  made  us  gay,  oh, 
my  golden  sister !  That 's  the  way  we  Hungarian 
gypsy  gentlemen  always  call  the  ladies  of  our  people. 
I  sang  in  Romany." 

"  I  'd  like  to  hear  you  sing  now,"  remarked  a  dark, 
handsome  young  man,  who  had  just  made  a  myste- 
rious appearance  out  of  the  surrounding  shadows. 

"  It 's  a  Jcamaben  gilli  "  (a  love-song),  said  the  rye  ; 
"  and  it  is  beautiful,  deep  old  Romanes,  —  enough 
to  make  you  cry." 

There  was  the  long  sound  of  a  violin,  clear  as  the 
note  of  a  horn.  I  had  not  observed  that  the  dark 
young  man  had  found  one  to  his  hand,  and,  as  he  ac- 
companied, my  uncle  sang ;  and  I  give  the  lyric  as 
he  afterwards  gave  it  to  me,  both  in  Romany  and 
English.  As  he  frankly  admitted,  it  was  his  own 
•••omposition. 


268  AMERICAN  GYPSIES. 


KE  TRINALL 

Tu  shan  miri  pireni 

Me  kamava  tute, 
Kamlidiri,  rinkeni, 

Kames  mande  buti  ? 

Sa  o  miro  kushto  gry 
Taders  miri  wardi,  — 

Sa  o  boro  buno  rye 
Rikkers  lesto  stardi. 

Sa  o  bokro  dre  o  char 

Hawala  adovo,  — 
Sa  i  choramengeri 

Lels  o  ryas  luvoo,  — 

Sa  o  sasto  levinor 

Kairs  ainandy  matto,  — 
Sa  o  yag  adre"  o  tan 

Kairs  o  gcero  tatto,  — 

Sa  i  puri  Romni  chat 

Pens  o  kushto  dukkrin,  — 
Sa  i  Gorgi  dinneli, 

Patsers  lakis  pukkrin,  — 

Tute  taders  tiro  rom, 
Sims  o  gry,  o  wardi, 

Tute  chores  o  zi  adrom 
Rikkers  sa  i  stardi. 

Tute  haws  te  chores  m'ri  at, 
Tutes  dukkered  buti 

Tu  shan  miro  jivaben 
Me  t'vel  paller  tute. 

Paller  tute  sarasa 

Pardel  puv  te  pani, 
Trinali  —  okrallisa! 

Miri  chovihani ! 


HOUSE   GYPSIES  IN  PHILADELPHIA.        26£ 


TO  TRINALI 

Now  thou  art  my  darling  girl, 
And  I  love  thee  dearly  ; 

Oh,  beloved  and  my  fair, 
Lov'st  thou  me  sincerely  ? 

As  my  good  old  trusty  horse 
Draws  his  load  or  bears  it ; 

As  a  gallant  cavalier 

Cocks  his  hat  and  wears  it ; 

As  a  sheep  devours  the  grass 
When  the  day  is  sunny ; 

As  a  thief  who  has  the  chance 
Takes  away  our  money; 

As  strong  ale  when  taken  down 
Makes  the  strongest  tipsy ; 

As  a  fire  within  a  tent 
Warms  a  shivering  gypsy ; 

As  a  gypsy  grandmother 
Tells  a  fortune  neatly ; 

As  the  Gentile  trusts  in  her, 
And  is  done  completely,  — 

So  you  draw  me  here  and  there, 
Where  you  like  you  take  me ; 

Or  you  sport  me  like  a  hat, — 
What  you  will  you  make  me. 

So  you  steal  and  gnaw  my  heart, 
For  to  that  I  'm  fated  ! 

And  by  you,  my  gypsy  Kate, 
I  'm  intoxicated. 

And  I  own  you  are  a  witch, 

I  am  beaten  hollow ; 
Where  thou  goest  in  this  world 

I  am  bound  to  follow,  — 

Follow  thee,  where'er  it  be, 
Over  land  and  water, 


270  AMERICAN   GYPSIES. 

Trinali,  my  gypsy  queen ! 
Witch  and  witch's  daughter ! 

"  Well,  that  is  deep  Romanes,"  said  the  woman, 
admiringly.  "  It 's  beautiful." 

"/should  think  it  was,"  remarked  the  violinist. 
"  Why,  I  did  n't  understand  more  than  one  half  of  it. 
But  what  I  caught  I  understood."  Which,  I  re- 
flected, as  he  uttered  it,  is  perhaps  exactly  the  case 
with  far  more  than  half  the  readers  of  all  poetry. 
They  run  on  in  a  semi-sensuous  mental  condition, 
soothed  by  cadence  and  lulled  by  rhyme,  reading  as 
they  run  for  want  of  thought.  Are  there  not  poets  of 
the  present  day  who  mean  that  you  shall  read  them 
thus,  and  who  cast  their  gold  ornaments  hollow,  as 
jewelers  do,  lest  they  should  be  too  heavy  ? 

"  My  children,"  said  Meister  Karl,  "  I  could  go  on 
all  day  with  Romany  songs  ;  and  I  can  count  up  to  a 
hundred  in  the  black  language.  I  know  three  words 
for  a  mouse,  three  for  a  monkey,  and  three  for  the 
shadow  which  falleth  at  noonday.  And  I  know  how 
to  pen  dukkeriri)  lei  dudiJcabin  te  chiv  o  manzin  aprc 
latti."  i 

"Well,  the  man  who  knows  that  is  up  to  drab 
[medicine],  and  has  n't  much  more  to  learn,"  said  the 
young  man.  "  When  a  rye  's  a  Rom  he  's  anywhere 
at  home." 

"So  kushto  bah!"  (Good  luck!)  I  said,  rising  to 
go.  "  We  will  come  again  ! " 

"  Yes,  we  will  come  again,"  said  Meistor  Karl. 
;'  Look  for  me  with  the  roses  at' the  races,  and  tell  me 
the  horse  to  bet  on.  You'll  find  my  patteran  [a 

1  A  brief  resume  of  the  most  characteristic  gypsy  mode  of  obtain- 
ing property. 


HOUSE   GYPSIES  IN  PHILADELPHIA.         271 

mark  or  sign  to  show  which  way  a  gypsy  has  trav- 
eled] at  the  next  church-door,  or  may  be  on  the  pub- 
lic-house step.  Child  of  the  old  Egyptians,  mother 
of  all  the  witches,  sister  of  the  stars,  daughter  of  dark- 
ness, farewell ! " 

This  bewildering  speech  was  received  with  admir- 
ing awe,  and  we  departed.  I  should  have  liked  to 
hear  the  comments  on  us  which  passed  that  evening 
among  the  gypsy  denizens  of  Mammy  Sauerkraut's 
Row. 


V. 

A  GYPSY  LETTER. 

ALL  the  gypsies  in  the  country  are  not  upon  the 
roads.  Many  of  them  live  in  houses,  and  that  very 
respectably,  nay,  even  aristocratically.  Yea,  and  it 
may  be,  O  reader,  that  thou  hast  met  them  and 
knowest  them  not,  any  more  than  thou  knowest  many 
other  deep  secrets  of  the  hearts  and  lives  of  those  who 
live  around  thee.  Dark  are  the  ways  of  the  Romany, 
strange  his  paths,  even  when  reclaimed  from  the  tent 
and  the  van.  It  is,  however,  intelligible  enough  that 
the  Rom  converted  to  the  true  faith  of  broadcloth 
garments  by  Poole,  or  dresses  by  Worth,  as  well  as 
to  the  holy  gospel  of  daily  baths  and  savon  au  violet, 
should  say  as  little  as  possible  of  his  origin.  For  the 
majority  of  the  world  being  snobs,  they  continually 
insist  that  all  blood  unlike  their  own  is  base,  and  the 
chiy  of  the  Jcalorat,  knowing  this,-sayeth  naught,  and 
ever  carefully  keeps  the  lid  of  silence  on  the  pot  of 
his  birth.  And  as  no  being  that  ever  was,  is,  or  will 
be  ever  enjoyed  holding  a  secret,  playing  a  part,  or 
otherwise  entering  into  the  deepest  mystery  of  life  — 
which  is  to  make  a  joke  of  it  —  so  thoroughly  as  a 
gypsy,  it  follows  that  the  being  respectable  has  to 
him  a  raciness  and  drollery  and  pungency  and  point 
which  pusselh  faith.  It  has  often  occurred  to  me, 
and  the  older  I  grow  the  more  I  find  it  true,  that  the 
^eal  pleasure  which  bank  presidents,  moral  politicians, 


A    GYPSY  LETTER.  273 

not  a  few  clergymen,  and  most  other  highly  repre- 
sentative good  men  take  in  having  a  high  character 
is  the  exquisite  secret  consciousness  of  its  being  ut- 
terly undeserved.  They  love  acting.  Let  no  man 
say  that  the  love  of  the  drama  is  founded  on  the  arti- 
ficial or  sham.  I  have  heard  the  Reverend  Histrio- 
mastix  war  and  batter  this  on  the  pulpit ;  but  the 
utterance  per  se  was  an  actual,  living  lie.  He  was 
acting  while  he  preached.  Love  or  hunger  is  not 
more  an  innate  passion  than  acting.  The  child  in  the 
nursery,  the  savage  by  the  Nyanza  or  in  Alaska,  the 
multitude  of  great  cities,  all  love  to  bemask  and  seem 
what  they  are  not.  Crush  out  carnivals  and  masked 
balls  and  theatres,  and  lo,  you !  the  disguising  and 
acting  and  masking  show  themselves  in  the  whole 
community.  Mawworrn  and  Aminidab  Sleek  then 
play  a  role  in  every  household,  and  every  child  be- 
comes a  wretched  little  Roscius.  Verily  I  say  unto 
you,  the  fewer  actors  the  more  acting;  the  fewer  the- 
atres the  more  stages,  and  the  worse.  Lay  it  to  heart, 
study  it  deeply,  you  who  believe  that  the  stage  is  an 
open  door  to  hell,  for  the  chances  are  ninety  and  nine 
to  one  that  if  this  be  true  you  will  end  by  consciously 
or  unconsciously  keeping  a  private  little  gate  there- 
unto. Beloved,  put  this  in  thy  pipe  and  fumigrfte  it, 
that  acting  in  some  form  is  a  human  instinct  which 
cannot  be  extinguished,  which  never  has  been  and 
never  will  be ;  and  this  being  so,  is  it  not  better,  with 
Dr.  Bellows,  to  try  to  put  it  into  proper  form  than  to 
srush  it  ?  Truly  it  has  been  proved  that  with  this,  as 
with  a  certain  other  unquenchable  penchant  of  hu- 
xnanity,  when  you  suppress  a  score  of  professionals 
you  create  a  thousand  zealous  amateurs.  There  was 
never  in  this  world  a  stage  on  which  mere  acting  was 

18 


274  AMERICAN  GYPSIES. 

more  skillfully  carried  out  than  in  all  England  under 
Cromwell,  or  in  Philadelphia  under  the  Quakers. 
Eccentric  dresses,  artificial  forms  of  language,  sepa- 
rate and  "  peculiar  "  expressions  of  character  unlike 
those  of  "the  world,"  were  all  only  giving  a  form  to 
that  craving  for  being  odd  and  queer  which  forms  the 
soul  of  masking  and  acting.  Of  course  people  who 
act  all  the  time  object  to  the  stage.  Le  diable  ne 
veut  pas  de  miroir. 

The  gypsy  of  society  not  always,  but  yet  frequently, 
retains  a  keen  interest  in  his  wild  ancestry.  He  keeps 
up  the  language ;  it  is  a  delightful  secret ;  he  loves 
now  and  then  to  take  a  look  at  "the  old  thing." 
Closely  allied  to  the  converted  sinners  are  the  afici- 
onados, or  the  ladies  and  gentlemen  born  with  uncon- 
querable Bohemian  tastes,  which  may  be  accounted  for 
by  their  having  been  themselves  gypsies  in  preexist- 
ent  lives.  No  one  can  explain  how  or  why  it  is  that 
the  aficion  comes  upon  them.  It  is  mthem.  I  know 
a  very  learned  man  in  England,  a  gentleman  of  high 
position,  one  whose  name  is  familiar  to  my  readers. 
He  could  never  explain  or  understand  why  from  early 
childhood  he  had  felt  himself  drawn  towards  the  wan- 
derers. When  he  was  only  ten  years  old  he  saved  up 
all  his  little  store  of  pence  wherewith  to  pay  a  tinker 
to  give  him  lessons  in  Romany,  in  which  tongue  he  is 
now  a  Past  Grand.  I  know  ladies  in  England  and  in 
America,  both  of  the  blood  and  otherwise,  who  would 
give  up  a  ball  of  the  highest  flight  in  society,  to  sit  an 
hour  in  a  gypsy  tent,  and  on  whom  a  whispered  word 
of  Romany  acts  like  wild-lire.  Great  as  my  experience 
lias  been  I  can  really  no  more  explain  the  intensity 
of  this  yearning,  this  raj>i>orf,  than  I  can  fly.  My 
own  fancy  for  gypsydom  is  faint  and  feeble  compared 


A    GYPSY  LETTER.  275 

to  what  I  have  found  in  many  others.  It  is  in  them 
like  the  love  for  opium,  for  music,  for  love  itself,  or 
for  acting.  I  confess  that  there  is  to  me  a  nameless 
charm  in  the  strangely,  softly  flowing  language,  which 
gives  a  sweeter  sound  to  every  foreign  word  which  it 
adopts,  just  as  the  melody  of  a  forest  stream  is  said 
to  make  more  musical  the  songs  of  the  birds  who 
dwell  beside  it.  Thus  Wentzel  becomes  Wenselo  and 
Anselo;  Arthur,  Artaros ;  London,  Lundra;  Sylvester, 
Westaros.  Such  a  phrase  as  "  Dordi  !  dovelo  adoi?" 
(See  !  what  is  that  there  ?)  could  not  be  surpassed 
for  mere  beauty  of  sound. 

It  is  apropos  of  living  double  lives,  and  playing 
parts,  and  the  charm  of  stealing  away  unseen,  like 
naughty  children,  to  romp  with  the  tabooed  offspring 
of  outlawed  neighbors,  that  I  write  this,  to  introduce 
a  letter  from  a  lady,  who  has  kindly  permitted  me  to 
publish  it.  It  tells  its  own  story  of  two  existences, 
two  souls  in  one.  I  give  it  as  it  was  written,  first  in 
Romany,  and  then  in  English  :  — 

Febmunti  1st. 

MIRO  KAMLO  PAL,  —  Tu  tevel  mishto  ta  shun  te  latcher- 
dum  me  akovo  kurikus  tacho  Romany  tan  akai  adre  o  gav. 
Buti  kamaben  lis  sas  ta  dikk  mori  foki  apopli ;  buti  kushti 
ta  shun  moro  jib.  Mi-duvel  atch  apa  mande,  si  ne  shomas 
pash  naflo  o  Gorginess,  vonk'  akovo  vias.  O  waver  divvus 
Ba  me  viom  fon  a  swell  saleskro  haben,  dikdom  me  dui 

Romaui   chia  beshin  alay  apre  a  longo  skamin  adre 

Square.  Kalor  yakkor,  kalor  balyor,  lullo  diklas  apre  i 
Bherria,  te  lender  trushnia  aglal  lender  piria.  Mi-duvel, 
shomas  pash  divio  sftr  kamaben  ta  dikav  lender !  Avo ! 
kairdum  o  wardomengro  hatch  i  graia  te  sheldom  avri, 
"  Come  here !  "  Yon  penden  te  me  sos  a  rani  ta  dukker, 
te  vian  sig  adosta.  Awer  me  saldom  te  pendom  adre 
Romanis  :  "  Sarishan  miri  dearis !  Tute  don't  jin  maiidy's  a 


276  AMERICAN   GYPSIES. 

Romany !  "  Yon  nastis  patser  lende  kania  nera  yakkor. 
"  Mi-duvel !  Sa  se  tiro  nav?  putchde  yeck.  "Miro  nav 
Be  Britannia  Lee."  Kenna-sig  yon  diktas  te  me  sos  tachi, 
*e  penden  amengi  lender  navia  shanas  M.  te  D.  Lis  sos 
duro  pa  lende  ta  jin  sa  a  Roman!  rilni  astis  jiv  amen  Gor- 
gios,  te  dikk  sa  Gorgious,  awer  te  vel  kushti  Romani  ajii, 
te  tevel  buoino  lakis  kaloratt.  Buti.rakkerd&n  apre  mori 
foki,  buti  nevvi,  buti  savo  sos  rumado,  te  beeno,  te  puredo, 
savo  sos  vino  fon  o  puro  tern,  te  butikumi  aja  kekkeno  sos 
rakkerben  sa  gudli.  M.  pende  amengi,  "  Mandy  don't  jin 
how  tute  can  jiv  among  dem  Gorgies."  Pukerdom  anpali : 
"  Mandy  dont  jiv,  mandy  mers  kairin  amen  lender."  Yon 
mangades  mande  ta  well  ta  dikk  a  len,  adre  lendes  ker  apre 
o  chumba  kai  atchena  pa  o  wen.  Pende  M.,  "  Av  miri  pen 
ta  ha  a  bitti  sar  mendi.  Tute  jins  the  chais  are  only  kerri 
arattt  te  Kurrkus." 

Sunday  sala  miri  pen  te  me  ghion  adoi  te  latchedon  o 
ker.  O  tan  sos  bitto,  awer  sa  i  Romanis  pende,  dikde  boro 
adosta  paller  jivin  adre  o  wardo.  M.  sos  adoi  te  lakis  roms 
dye,  a  kushti  puri  chai.  A.  sar  shtor  chavia.  M.  kerde 
haben  sa  mendui  viom  adoi.  I  puri  dye  sos  mishto  ta  dikk 
mande,  yoi  kfimde  ta  jin  sar  trustal  mande.  Rakkerdeni 
buti  aja,  te  yoi  pende  te  yoi  ne  kekker  latchde  a  Romani 
rani  denna  mande.  Peudom  me  ke  laki  shan  adre  society 
kumi  Romaui  rania,  awer  i  galderli  Gorgios  ne  jinena  lis. 

Yoi  pende  sa  miri  pen  dikde  simlo  Lusha  Cooper,  te  sig- 
gerde  lakis  kaloratt  butider  denna  me.  "  Tute  don't  favor 
the  Coopers,  miri  dearie  !  Tute  pens  tiri  dye  rummerd  a 
mush  navvered  Smith.  Was  adovo  the  Smith  as  lelled 
kellin  te  kurin  booths  pasher  Lundra  Bridge?  Sos  tute 
beeno  adre*  Anglati-rra  ?  "  Pukkerdom  me  ke  puri  dye  sar 
jinav  me  trustal  miri  kokeri  te  simensi.  Tu  jinsa  shan  kek 
Gorgies  sa  longi-bavoli  apre  genealogies,  sa  i  puri  Romani 
dyia.  Vonka  foki  nastis  chin  lende  adre  lilia,  rikkerena 
Uuule  aduro  adre  k-ndros  sherria.  Que  la  main  droit  perd 
recueille  la  gauche. 

"  Does  tute  jin  any  of  the 's  ?  "  peude  M.     "  Tutc 


A   GYPSY  LETTER.  277 

dikks  sim  ta  —  —  's  juva."  "  Ne  kekker,  yois  too  pauno," 
pens  A.  "It's  chomani  adre*  the  look  of  her,"  pende  M. 

Dikkpali  miro  pal.     Tu  jinsa  te sos  i  chi  savo  dudi- 

kabinde  manush,   navdo buti  wongur.     Vanka  yt>i  sos 

lino  apre,  o  Beshomengro  pende  ta  ker  laki  chiv  apre  a 
shuba  sims  Gorgios  te  adenne  lelled  laki  adre  a  tan  sar 
desh  te  dui  gorgi  chaia.  —  astissa  pen  i  chai  savo  chorde 

lestis  lovvo.  Vanka  yoi  vias  adre  o  tan,  yoi  ghias  sig  keti 
laki,  te  pende  :  "  JinFiva  me  laki  talla  lakis  longi  vangusti, 
te  riukeni  mui.  Yoi  sos  stardi  dui  beshya,  awer  o  Gorgio 
kekker  las  leski  vongur  pali." 

Savo-chirus  mendi  rakkerden  o  wilder  pirido,  te  trin 
manushia  vian  adre.  .  .  .  Pali  lenders  sarishans,  M.  shelde 
avri :  "Av  ta  misali,  rikker  yer  skammins  longo  tute  ! 
Mrs.  Lee,  why  didn't  tute  bring  yer  rom  ?  "  "  Adenna  me 

shorn  kek  rumadi."     "  Mi-duvel,  Britannia !  "  pende  . 

"•  M.  pende  amengy  te  tu  sos  rumado."  "  M.  didn't  dukker 
tacho  vonka  yoi  dukkerd  adovo.  Yois  a  dinneli,"  pendom 
me.  Te  adenne  sar  mendi  saden  atut  M.  Haben  sos  kushto, 
Horn  a  kani,  ballovas  te  puvengros,  te  kushto  curro  levina. 
Liom  mendi  kushto  paiass  dre  moro  puro  Romany  dromus. 
Rinkenodiro  sos,  kerde  mande  pash  ta  ruv,  shomas  sa  kush- 
to-bakno  ta  atch  yecker  apopli  men  mori  foki.  Sos  "  Brit- 
annia !  "  akai,  te  "  Britannia  !  "  doi,  te  sar  sa  adre  o  puro 
cheirus,  vonka  chavi  shomas.  Ne  patserava  me  ta  Dante 
chinde :  — 

"  Nessun  maggior  dolore 
Che  ricordarsi  del  tempi  felici." 

Talla  me  shomas  kushto-bakno  ta  pen  apre  o  puro  chirus. 
Sar  lende  piden  miro  kamaben  Romaneskaes,  sar  gudlo ; 
talla  PI.  Yov  pende  nastis  ker  lis,  pa  yuv  kenna  lias  tabuti. 
Kushto  dikin  Romnichal  yuv.  Tu  tevel  jin  lesti  sarakai  pa 
Roman  i,  yuv  se  sa  kalo.  Te  avec  fair  indefinnissable  du 
vrai  Bohemien.  Yuv  patserde  me  ta  piav  miro  sastopen 
wavescro  chirus.  Kana  shomas  pa  misali,  geero  vias  keti 
\an ;  dukkeriben  kamde  yov.  Hunali  sos  i  puri  dye  te 


278  AMERICAN   GYPSIES. 

pendes  amergi,  "  Beng  lei  o  puro  jukel  for  wellin  vanka 
inendi  shorn  hain,  te  kenna  tu  slum  akai,  miri  Britannia 
Yov  ne  tevel  lei  kek  kushto  bak.  Mandy'll  pen  leste  a 
wafedo  dukkerin."  Adoi  A.  putcherde  mengy,  "  Does  tute 
dukker  or  sfi  does  tute  ker."  "  Miri  pen,  mandy'll  pen  tute 
tacho.  Mandy  dukkers  te  dudikabins  te  kers  buti  covvas. 
Shorn  a  tachi  Romani  chovihani."  "  Tacho  !  tacho !  "  saden 
butider.  Miri  pen  te  me  rikkerdem  a  boro  matto-morricley 
pa  i  chavis.  Yon  beshden  alay  apre  o  purj,  hais  lis.  Rinkeno 
picture  sas,  pendom  dikkav  mande  te  miri  penia  te  pralia 
kenna  shomas  bitti.  Latcherdom  me  a  tani  kali  chavi  of 
panj  besh  chorin  levina  avrl  miro  curro.  Dikde,  sar  lakis 
bori  kali  yakka  te  kali  balia  simno  tikno  Bacchante,  sa  yoi 
prasterde  adrom. 

Pendom  parako  pa  rnoro  kushto-bfikeno  chirus  —  "  kushto 
bak  "  te  "  kushto  divvus."  Mendi  diom  moro  tachopen  ta 
well  apopli,  te  kan  viom  kerri.  Patserava  dikk  tute  akai 
talla  o  prasterin  o  ye  graia.  Kushto  bak  te  kushto  ratti. 

Sarja  tiro  pen,  BRITANNIA  LEE. 

TRANSLATION. 

February  1st. 

MY  DEAR  FRIEND,  —  You  will  be  glad  to  learn  that  I, 
within  the  wi-ck,  found  a  real  Romany  family  (place)  here 
in  this  town.  Charming  it  was  to  find  our  folk  again  ; 
pleasant  it  was  to  listen  to  our  tongue.  Tint  Lord  be  on 
uie  !  but  I  was  half  sick  of  Gentiles  and  their  ways  till  this 
occurred.  The  other  day,  as  I  was  muming  from  a  highly 
aristocratic  breakfast,  where  we  had  winter  strawberries 
with  the  creme  de  la  crcme,  I  saw  two  gypsy  women  sitting 
on  a  bench  in Square.  Black  eyes,  black  hair,  red  ker- 
chiefs on  therr  heads',  their  baskets  on  the  ground  before 
their  feet.  Dear  Lord  !  but  I  was  half  wild  with  delight  at 
seeing  them.  Aye,  I  made  the  eoaehman  stop  the  horses, 
and  ei-:ed  aloud,  "Come  1  They  thought  I  \\ 

lady  to  t'ortunu-tell,  and  came  quickly.  Hut  I  laughed,  and 
raid  in  Romany,  "  How  are  you,  my  dears  ?  You  don't 


A    GYPSY  LETTER.  279 

know  that  I  am  a  gypsy."  They  could  not  trust  their  very 
ears  or  eyes !  At  length  one  said,  "  My  God  !  what  is 
your  name?"  "My  name's  Britannia  Lee,"  and,  at  a 
glance,  they  saw  that  I  was  to  be  trusted,  and  a  Romany. 
Their  names,  they  said,  were  M.  and  D.  It  was  hard  (far) 
for  them  to  understand  how  a  Romany  lady  could  live 
among  Gentiles,  and  look  so  Gorgious,  and  yet  be  a  true 
gypsy  withal,  and  proud  of  her  dark  blood.  Much  they 
talked  about  our  people ;  much  news  I  heard,  —  much  as  to 
who  was  married  and  born  and  buried,  who  was  come  from 
the  old  country,  and  much  more.  Oh,  never  was  such  news 
so  sweet  to  me  !  M.  said,  "  I  don't  know  how  you  can 
live  among  the  Gentiles."  I  answered,  li  I  don't  live ;  I  die, 
living  in  their  houses  with  them."  They  begged  me  then 
to  come  and  see  them  in  their  home,  upon  the  hill,  where 
they  are  wintering.  M.  said,  "  Come,  my  sister,  and  eat 
a  little  with  us.  You  know  that  the  women  are  only  at 
home  at  night  and  on  Sunday." 

Sunday  morning,  sister  and  I  went  there,  and  found  the 
house.  It  was  a  little  place,  but,  as  they  said,  after  the  life 
in  wagons  it  seemed  large.  M.  was  there,  and  her  hus- 
band's mother,  a  nice  old  woman  ;  also  A.,  with  four  chil- 
dren. M.  was  cooking  as  we  entered.  The  old  mother 
was  glad  to  see  us  ;  she  wished  to  know  all  about  us.  All 
talked,  indeed,  and  that  quite  rapidly,  and  she  said  that  I 
was  the  first  Romany  lady l  she  had  ever  seen.  I  said  to 
her  that  in  society  are  many  gypsy  ladies  to  be  found,  but 
that  the  wretched  Gentiles  do  not  know  it. 

She  said  that  my  sister  looked  like  Lusha  Cooper,  and 
showed  her  dark  blood  more  than  I  do.  "  You  don't  favor 
the  Coopers,  my  dearie.  You  say  your  mother  married  a 
Smith.  Was  that  the  Smith  who  kept  a  dancing  and  box- 

1  Lady,  in  gypsy  rani.  The  process  of  degradation  is  curiously 
marked  in  this  language.  Rani  (mwnee),  in  Hindi,  is  a  queen.  Rye, 
or  me,  a  gentleman,  in  its  native  land,  is  applicable  to  a  nobleman, 
while  rashai,  a  clergyman,  even  of  the  smallest  dissenting  type,  rises 
in  the  original  rishi  to  a  saint  of  the  highest  order. 


280  AMERICAN  GYPSIES. 

ing  place  near  London  Bridge  ?  Were  you  born  in  Eng- 
land ?  "  I  told  the  old  mother  all  I  knew  about  myself 
and  my  relations.  You  know  that  no  Gorgios  are  so  long- 
winded  on  genealogies  as  old  mothers  in  Rom.  When  peo- 
ple don't  write  them  down  in  their  family  Bibles,  they  carry 
them,  extended,  in  their  heads.  Que  la  main  droit  perd 
recueille  la  gauche. 

"  Do  you  know  any  of  the 's  ?  "  said  M.  "  You  look 

like 's  wife."  "  No  ;  she  's  too  pale,"  said  A.  "  It 's 

something  in  the  look  of  her,"  said  M. 

Reflect,  my  brother.  You  know  that was  the 

woman  who  "  cleaned  out "  a  man  named of  a  very 

large  sum  1  by  "  dukkeripcn  "  and  "  dudikabin."  "  When 
she  was  arrested,  the  justice  made  her  dress  like  any  Gorgio, 
and  placed  her  among  twelve  Gentile  women.  The  man 
who  had  been  robbed  was  to  point  out  who  among  them 
had  stolen  his  money.  When  she  came  into  the  room,  he 
went  at  once  to  her,  and  said,  '  I  know  her  by  her  long 
skinny  fingers  and  handsome  face.'  She  was  imprisoned 
for  two  years,  but  the  Gorgio  never  recovered  his  money." 

What  time  we  reasoned  thus,  the  door  undid,  and  three 
men  entered.  After  their  greetings,  M.  cried,  "  Come  to 
table  ;  bring  your  chairs  with  you  !  "  "  Mrs.  Lee,  why 
didn't  you  bring  your  husband?"  "Because  I  am  not 
married."  "Lord!  Britannia!  Why,  M.  told  me  that 
you  were."  "  Ah,  M.  did  n't  fortune  right  when  she  fort- 
uned that.  She  's  a  fool,"  quoth  I.  And  then  \vc  all 
laughed  like  children.  The  food  was  good :  chickens  and 
ham  and  fried  potatoes,  with  a  glass  of  sound  ale.  We 
were  gay  as  flies  in  summer,  in  the  real  old  Romany  way. 
'T  was  "Britannia"  here,  "Britannia"  there,  as  in  the 
merry  days  when  we  were  young.  Little  do  I  believe  in 
Dante's  words,  — 


1  This  was  the  very  same  affair  nnd  the.  same  trypsies  described 
and  mentioned  on  page  383  of  In  (',I/J>KIJ  Tents,  by  Francis  Iliudcs 
Groome,  Edinburgh,  1880.  I  am  well  acquainted  with  them. 


A    GYPSY  LETTER.  281 

"  Nesstm  maggior  dolore, 
Che  ricordarsi  dei  tempi  felici." 

"  There  is  no  greater  grief 
Than  to  remember  by-gone  happy  days." 

For  it  is  always  happiness  to  me  to  think  of  good  old 
times  when  I  was  glad.  All  drank  my  health,  Romanes- 
kaes,  together,  with  a  shout,  —  all  save  H.,  who  said  he  had 
already  had  too  much.  Good-looking  gypsy,  that !  You  'd 
know  him  anywhere  for  Romany,  he  is  so  dark,  —  avec  lair 
indefinissable  du  vrai  Bohemien.  He  promised  to  drink  my 
health  another  time. 

As  we  sat,  a  gentleman  came  in  below,  wishing  to  have  his 
fortune  told.  I  remember  to  have  read  that  the  Pythoness 
of  Delphian  oracle  prepared  herself  for  dukkerin,  or  presag- 
ing, by  taking  a  few  drops  of  cherry-laurel  water.  (I  have 
had  it  prescribed  for  my  eyes  as  ^T  aq.  laur.  cerasi.jiat  lotto, 
—  possibly  to  enable  me  to  see  into  the  future.)  Perhaps 
it  was  the  cherry-brandy  beloved  of  British  matrons  and 
Brighton  school-girls,  taken  at  Mutton's.  Mais  revenons  a 
nos  moutons.  The  old  mother  had  taken,  not  cherry-laurel 
water,  nor  even  cherry -brandy,  but  joly  good  ale,  and  olde, 
which,  far  from  fitting  her  to  reveal  the  darksome  lore  of 
futurity,  had  rendered  her  loath  to  leave  the  festive  board 
of  the  present.  Wrathful  was  the  sybil,  furious  as  the 
Vala  when  waked  by  Odin,  angry  as  Thor  when  he  missed 
his  hammer,  to  miss  her  merriment.  "  May  the  devil  take 
the  old  dog  for  coming  when  we  are  eating,  and  when  thou 
art  here,  my  Britannia !  Little  good  fortune  will  he  hear 
this  day.  Evil  shall  be  the  best  I  '11  promise  him."  Thus 
spake  the  sorceress,  and  out  she  went  to  keep  her  word. 
Truly  it  was  a  splendid  picture  this  of  "  The  Enraged 
Witch,"  as  painted  by  Hexenmeister  von  Teufel,  of  Hol- 
lenstadt,  —  her  viper  eyes  flashing  infernal  light  and  most 
unchristian  fire,  shaking  les  noirs  serpents  de  ses  cheveux., 
^s  she  went  forth.  I  know  how,  in  an  instant,  her  face  was 
beautiful  with  welcome,  smiling  like  a  Neapolitan  at  a  cent ; 


282  AMERICAN   GYPSIES. 

but  the  poor  believer  caught  it  hot,  all  the  same,  and  had 
a  sleepless  night  over  his  future  fate.  I  wonder  if  the 
Pythoness  of  old,  when  summoned  from  a  petit  souper,  or  a 
holy  prophet  called  out  of  bed  of  a  cold  night,  to  decide  by 
royal  command  on  the  fate  of  Israel,  ever  "  took  it  out "  on 
the  untimely  king  by  promising  him  a  livehr,  unhappy  time 
of  it.  Truly  it  is  fine  to  be  behind  the  scenes  and  see  how 
they  work  the  oracle.  For  the  gentleman  who  came  to 
consult  my  witch  was  a  man  of  might  in  the  secrets  of  state, 
and  one  whom  I  have  met  in  high  society.  And,  oh  !  if  he 
had  known  who  it  was  that  was  up-stairs,  laughing  at  him 
for  a  fool ! 

"While  she  was  forth,  A.  asked  me,  "  Do  you  tell  fortunes, 
or  what  ?  "  "  My  sister,"  I  replied,  "  I  '11  tell  thee  the 
truth.  I  do  tell  fortunes.  I  keep  a  house  for  the  pur- 
chase of  stolen  goods.  I  am  largely  engaged  in  making 
counterfeit  money  and  all  kinds  of  forgery.  I  am  inter- 
ested in  burglary.  I  lie,  swear,  cheat,  and  steal,  and  get 
drunk  on  Sunday.  And  I  do  many  other  things.  I  am 
a  real  Romany  witch."  This  little  confession  of  faith 
brought  down  the  house.  "  Bravo  !  bravo  !  "  they  cried, 
laughing. 

Sister  and  I  had  brought  a  great  tipsy-cake  for  the  chil- 
dren, and  they  were  all  sitting  under  a  table,  eating  it.  It 
was  a  pretty  picture.  I  thought  I  saw  in  it  myself  and  all 
my  sisters  and  brothers  as  we  were  once.  Just  such  little 
gypsies  and  duckling  Romany s  !  And  now !  And  then  ! 
What  a  comedy  some  lives  are,  —  yea,  such  lives  as  mine! 
And  now  it  is  you  who  are  behind  the  scenes  ;  anon,  I 
shall  change  with  you.  Va  Pierre,  vient  Pierette.  Then 
I  surprised  a  little  brown  maiden  imp  of  five  summers 
stealing  my  beer,  and  as  she  was  caught  in  the  act,  and 
tore  away  shrieking  with  laughter,  she  looked,  with  her 
great  black  eyes  and  flowing  jetty  curling  locks,  like  a  per- 
fect little  Bacchante. 

Then  we  said,  "  Thank  you  for  the  happy  time  !  "  "  Good 


A    GYPSY  LETTER.  283 

luck ! "  and  "  Good  day ! "  giving  our  promises  to  come 
again.     So  we  went  home  all  well.     I  hope  to  see  you  at 
the  races  here.     Good  luck  and  good-night  also  to  you. 
Always  ycur  friend,  BRITANNIA  LEE 

I  have  somewhat  abbreviated  the  Romany  text  of 
this  letter,  and  Miss  Lee  herself  has  somewhat  pol- 
ished and  enlarged  the  translation,  which  is  strictly 
fit  and  proper,  she  being  a  very  different  person  in 
English  from  what  she  is  in  gypsy,  as  are  most  of  her 
kind.  This  letter  may  be,  to  many,  a  strange  lesson, 
a  quaint  essay,  a  social  problem,  a  fable,  an  epigram, 
or  a  frolic,  —  just  as  they  choose  to  take  it.  To  me 
it  is  a  poem.  Thou,  my  friend,  canst  easily  under- 
stand why  all  that  is  wild  and  strange,  out-of-doors, 
far  away  by  night,  is  worthy  of  being  Tennysoned  or 
Whitmanned.  If  there  be  given  unto  thee  stupen- 
dous blasted  trees,  looking  in  the  moonlight  like  the 
pillars  of  a  vast  and  ghostly  temple ;  the  fall  of  cat- 
aracts down  awful  rocks;  the  wind  wailing  in  won- 
drous language  or  whistling  Indian  melody  all  night 
on  heath,  rocks,  and  hills,  over  ancient  graves  and 
through  lonely  caves,  bearing  with  it  the  hoot  of 
the  night-owl;  while  over  all  the  stars  look  down 
in  eternal  mystery,  like  eyes  reading  the  great  riddle 
of  the  nip;lit  which  thou  knowest  not,  —  this  is  to  thee 
like  Ariel's  song.  To  me  and  to  us  there  are  men 
and  women  who  are  in  life  as  the  wild  river  and  the 
night-owl,  as  the  blasted  tree  and  the  wind  over  an- 
cient graves.  No  man  is  educated  until  he  has  arrived 
at  that  state  of  thought  when  a  picture  is  quite  the 
same  as  a  book,  an  old  gray-beard  jug  as  a  manu 
script,  men,  women,  and  children  as  libraries.  It 
was  but  yester  morn  that  I  read  a  cuneif c  rm  inscrip« 


284  AMERICAN  GYPSIES. 

tion  printed  by  doves'  feet  in  the  snow,  finding  a 
meaning  where  in  by-gone  years  I  should  have  seen 
only  a  quaint  resemblance.  For  in  this  by  the  orni- 
thomanteia  known  of  old  to  the  Chaldean  sages  I 
saw  that  it  was  neither  from  arrow-heads  or  wedges 
which  gave  the  letters  to  the  old  Assyrians.  When 
thou  art  at  this  point,  then  Nature  is  equal  in  all 
her  types,  and  the  city,  as  the  forest,  full  of  endless 
beauty  and  piquancy,  —  in  scecula  sceculorum. 

I  had  written  the  foregoing,  and  had  enveloped 
and  directed  it  to  be  mailed,  when  I  met  in  a  lady- 
book  entitled  "  Magyarland  "  with  the  following 
passages  :  — 

"  The  gypsy  girl  in  this  family  was  a  pretty  young 
woman,  with  masses  of  raven  hair  and  a  clear  skin, 
but,  notwithstanding  her  neat  dress  and  civilized  sur- 
roundings, we  recognized  her  immediately.  It  is,  in 
truth,  not  until  one  sees  the  Romany  translated  to 
an  entirely  new  form  of  existence,  and  under  circum- 
stances inconsistent  with  their  ordinary  lives,  that  one 
realizes  how  completely  different  they  are  from  the 
rest  of  mankind  in  form  and  feature.  Instead  of 'dis- 
guising, the  garb  of  civilization  only  enhances  the 
type,  and  renders  it  the  more  apparent.  No  matter 
what  dress  they  may  assume,  no  matter  what  may  be 
their  calling,  no  matter  whether  they  are  dwellers  in 
tents  or  houses,  it  is  impossible  for  gypsies  to  disguise 
their  origin.  Taken  from  their  customary  surround- 
ings, they  become  at  once  an  anomaly  and  an  anach- 
ronism, and  present  such  an  instance  of  the  absurd- 
ity of  attempting  to  invert  the  order  of  nature  that 
we  feel  more  than  ever  how  utterly  different  they  are 
from  the  human  race ;  that  there  is  a  key  to  their 
strange  life  which  we  do  not  possess,  —  a  secret  free- 


A   GYPSY  LETTER.  285 

masonry  that  renders  them  more  isolated  than  the 
veriest  savages  dwelling  in  the  African  wilds,  —  and 
a  hidden  mystery  hanging  over  them  and  their  origin 
that  we  shall  never  comprehend.  They  are  indeed  a 
people  so  entirely  separate  and  distinct  that,  in  what- 
ever clime  or  quarter  of  the  globe  they  may  be  met 
with,  they  are  instantly  recognized;  for  with  them 
forty  centuries  of  association  with  civilized  races  have 
not  succeeded  in  obliterating  one  single  sign." 

"  Alas  !  "  cried  the  princess  ;  "  I  can  never,  never 
find  the  door  of  the  enchanted  cavern,  nor  enter  the 
golden  cavern,  nor  solve  its  wonderful  mystery.  It 
has  been  closed  for  thousands  of  years,  and  it  will  re- 
main closed  forever." 

"What  flowers  are  those  which  thou  boldest?" 
asked  the  hermit. 

"  Only  primroses  or  Mary's-keys,1  and  tulips,"  re- 
plied the  princess. 

"  Touch  the  rock  with  them,"  said  the  hermit,  "  and 
the  door  will  open." 

The  lady  writer  of  "  Magyarland  "  held  in  her  hand 
all  the  while,  and  knew  it  not,  a  beautiful  primrose, 
which  might  have  opened  for  her  the  mysterious 
Romany  cavern.  On  a  Danube  steamboat  she  saw 
a  little  blind  boy  sitting  all  day  all  alone :  only  a  little 
Slavonian  peasant  boy,  "  an  odd,  quaint  little  speci- 
men of  humanity,  with  loose  brown  garments,  cut  pre- 
cisely like  those  of  a  grown-up  man,  and  his  bits  of 
feet  in  little  raw-hide  moccasins."  However,  with  a 

i  Primulaveris :  in  German  Schliissel  blume,  that  is,  key  flowers ;  also 
Mary's-keys  and  keys  of  heaven.  Both  the  primrose  and  tulip  are 
believed  in  South  Germany  to  be  an  Open  Sesame  to  hidden  treasure. 


286  AMERICAN  GYPSIES. 

tender,  gentle  heart  she  began  to  pet  the  little  waif. 
And  the  captain  told  her  what  the  boy  was.  "  He  is 
a  guslar,  or  minstrel,  as  they  call  them  in  Croatia. 
The  Yougo-Slavs  dedicate  all  male  children  who  are 
born  blind,  from  infancy,  to  the  Muses.  As  soon  as 
they  are  old  enough  to  handle  anything,  a  small  man- 
dolin is  given  them,  which  they  are  taught  to  play ; 
after  which  they  are  taken  every  day  into  the  woods, 
where  they  are  left  till  evening  to  commune  in  their 
little  hearts  with  nature.  In  due  time  they  become 
poets,  or  at  any  rate  rhapsodists,  singing  of  the  things 
they  never  saw,  and  when  grown  up  are  sent  forth  to 
earn  their  livelihood,  like  the  troubadours  of  old,  by 
singing  from  place  to  place,  and  asking  alms  by  the 
wayside. 

"  It  is  not  difficult  for  a  Slav  to  become  a  poet ;  he 
takes  in  poetic  sentiment  as  a  river  does  water  from 
its  source.  The  first  sounds  he  is  conscious  of  are  the 
words  of  his  mother  singing  to  him  as  she  rocks  his 
cradle.  Then,  as  she  watches  the  dawning  of  intelli- 
gence in  his  infant  face,  her  mother  language  is  that 
of  poetry,  which  she  improvises  at  the  moment,  and 
though  he  never  saw  the  flowers  nor  the  snow-capped 
mountains,  nor  the  flowing  streams  and  rivers,  he  de- 
scribes them  out  of  his  inner  consciousness,  and  the 
influence  which  the  varied  sounds  of  nature  have  upon 
his  mind." 

Rock  and  river  and  greenwood  tree,  sweet-spiced 
spring  flower,  rustling  grass,  and  bird-singing  nature 
and  freedom,  —  this  is  the  secret  of  the  poets'  song 
and  of  the  Romany,  and  there  is  no  other  mystery  in 
either.  He  who  sleeps  on  graves  rises  mad  or  a  poet 
all  who  lie  on  the  earth,  which  is  the  grave  and  cra- 
dle of  nature,  and  who  live  al  fresco ,  understand  gyp 


A   GYPSY  LETTER.  287 

sies  as  well  as  my  lady  Britannia  Lee.  Nay,  when 
some  natures  take  to  the  Romany  they  become  like 
the  Norman  knights  of  the  Pale,  who  were  more  Pad- 
dyfied  than  the  Paddies  themselves.  These  become 
leaders  among  the  gypsies,  who  recognize  the  fact 
that  one  renegade  is  more  zealous  than  ten  Turks. 
As  for  the  "  mystery  "  of  the  history  of  the  gypsies, 
it  is  time,  sweet  friends,  that  't  were  ended.  When 
we  know  that  there  is  to-day,  in  India,  a  sect  and  set 
of  Vauriens,  who  are  there  considered  Gipsissimee, 
and  who  call  themselves,  with  their  wives  and  lan- 
guage and  being,  Rom,  Romni,  and  Romnipana,  even 
as  they  do  in  England  ;  and  when  we  know,  more- 
over, that  their  faces  proclaim  them  to  be  Indian,  and 
that  they  have  been  a  wandering  caste  since  the  dawn 
of  Hindu  history,  we  have,  I  trow,  little  more  to 
seek.  As  for  the  rest,  you  may  read  it  in  the  great 
book  of  Out-of  Doors,  capitulo  nullo  folio  nigro,  or 
wherever  you  choose  to  open  it,  written  as  distinctly, 
plainly,  and  sweetly  as  the  imprint  of  a  school-boy's 
knife  and  fork  on  a  mince-pie,  or  in  the  uprolled 
rapture  of  the  eyes  of  Britannia  when  she  inhaleth 
the  perfume  of  a  fresh  bunch  of  Florentine  violets. 
lie  missa  est. 


GYPSIES  IN  THE  EAST. 


NOON  in  Cairo. 

A  silent  old  court-yard,  half  sun  and  half  shadow 
in  which  quaintly  graceful,  strangely  curving  columns 
seem  to  have  taken  from  long  companionship  with 
trees  something  of  their  inner  life,  while  the  palms, 
their  neighbors,  from  long  in-door  existence,  look  as 
if  -they  had  in  turn  acquired  household  or  animal 
instincts,  if  not  human  sympathies.  And  as  the 
younger  the  race  the  more  it  seeks  for  poets  and  ora- 
tors to  express  in  thought  what  it  only  feels,  so  these 
dumb  pillars  and  plants  found  their  poet  and  orator 
in  the  fountain  which  sang  or  spoke  for  them 
strangely  and  sweetly  all  night  and  day,  uttering  for 
them  not  only  their  waking  thoughts,  but  their 
dreams.  It  gave  a  voice,  too,  to  the  ancient  Persian 
tiles  and  the  Cufic  inscriptions  which  had  seen  the 
caliphs,  and  it  told  endless  stories  of  Zobeide  and 
Mesrour  and  Haroun  al  Raschid. 

Beyond  the  door  which,  when  opened,  gave  this 
sight  was  a  dark  ancient  archway  twenty  yards  long, 
which  opened  on  the  glaring,  dusty  street,  where  cam- 
els with  their  drivers  and  screaming  sais,  or  carriage- 
runners  and  donkey-boys  and  crying  venders,  kept  up 
the  wonted  Oriental  din.  But  just  within  the  arch- 
way, in  its  duskiest  corner,  there  sat  all  day  a  living 
picture,  a  dark  and  handsome  woman,  apparently 


GYPSIES  IN  THE  EAST.  289 

thirty  years  old,  who  was  unveiled.  She  had  before 
her  a  cloth  and  a  few  shells ;  sometimes  an  Egyptian 
of  the  lower  class  stopped,  and  there  would  be  a  grave 
consultation,  and  the  shells  would  be  thrown,  and 
then  further  solemn  conference  and  a  payment  of 
money  and  a  departure.  And  it  was  world-old  Egy^i 
tian,  or  Chaldean,  as  to  custom,  for  the  woman  was  a 
Rhagarin,  or  gypsy,  and  she  was  one  of  the  diviners 
who  sit  by  the  wayside,  casting  shells  for  auspices, 
even  as  shells  and  arrows  were  cast  of  old,  to  be  cursed 
by  Israel. 

It  is  not  remarkable  that  among  the  myriad  man- 
teias  of  olden  days  there  should  have  been  one  by 
shells.  The  sound  of  the  sea  as  heard  in  the  nautilus 
or  conch,  when 

"  It  remembers  its  august  abode 
And  murmurs  as  the  ocean  murmurs  there," 

is  very  strange  to  children,  and  I  can  remember 
how  in  childhood  I  listened  with  perfect  faith  to  the 
distant  roaring,  and  marveled  at  the  mystery  of  the 
ocean  song  being  thus  forever  kept  alive,  inland. 
Shells  seem  so  much  like  work  of  human  hands,  and 
are  often  so  marked  as  with  letters,  that  it  is  not 
strange  that  faith  soon  found  the  supernatural  in 
them.  The  magic  shell  of  all  others  is  the  cowrie. 
Why  the  Roman  ladies  called  it  porcella,  or  little  pig, 
because  it  has  a  pig's  back,  is  the  objective  explana- 
tion of  its  name,  and  how  from  its  gloss  that  name, 
or  porcellana,  was  transferred  to  porcelain,  is  in 
books.  But  there  is  another  side  to  the  shell,  and 
another  or  esoteric  meaning  to  "  piggy*"  which  was 
also  known  to  the  dames  du  temps  jadis,  to  Archi- 
piada  and  Thais,  quifut  la  belle  Romaine,  —  and  this 
inner  meaning  makes  of  it  a  type  of  birth  or  creation. 

19 


290  GYPSIES  IN  THE  EAST. 

Now  all  that  symbolizes  fertility,  birth,  pleasure, 
warmth,  light,  and  love  is  opposed  to  barrenness,  cold, 
death,  and  evil ;  whence  it  follows  that  the  very 
sight  of  a  shell,  and  especially  of  a  cowrie*  frightens 
away  the  devils  as  well  as  a  horse-shoe,  which  by  the 
way  has  alsp  its  cryptic  meaning.  Hence  it  was  se- 
lected to  cast  for  luck,  a  world-old  custom,  which  still 
lingers  in  the  game  of  props  ;  and  for  the  same  reason 
it  is  hung  on  donkeys,  the  devil  being  still  scared 
away  by  the  sight  of  a  cowrie,  even  as  he  was  scared 
away  of  old  by  its  prototype,  as  told  by  Rabelais. 

As  the  sibyls  sat  in  caves,  so  the  sorceress  sat  in 
the  dark  archway,  immovable  when  not  sought,  mys- 
terious as  are  all  her  kind,  and  something  to  wonder 
at.  It  was  after  passing  her,  and  feeling  by  quick  in- 
tuition what  she  was,  that  the  court-yard  became  a 
fairy -land,  and  the  fountain  its  poet,  and  the  palm- 
trees  Tamar  maids.  There  are  people  who  believe 
there  is  no  mystery,  that  an  analysis  of  tin1  gypsy 
sorceress  would  have  shown  an  ignorant  outcast ;  but 
while  nature  gives  chiaro - oscuro  and  beauty,  and 
while  God  is  the  Unknown,  I  believe  that  the  more 
light  there  is  cast  by  science  the  more  stupendous  will 
be  the  new  abysses  of  darkness  revealed.  These  nat- 
ures must  be  taken  with  the  life  in  them,  not  dead,  — 
and  their  life  is  mystery.  The  Hungarian  gypsy  lives 
in  an  intense  mystery,  yes,  in  true  magic  in  his  sing- 
ing. You  may  say  that  he  cannot,  like  Orpheus, 
move  rocks  or  tame  beasts  with  his  music.  If  he 
could  he  could  do  no  more  than  astonish  and  move 
us,  and  he  does  that  now,  and  the  ivliy  is  as  deep  a 
mystery  as  that  would  be. 

So  far  is  it  from  being  only  a  degrading  supersti- 
tion in  those  who  believe  that  mortals  like  themselves 


GYPSIES  IN  THE  EAST.  291 

can  predict  the  future,  that  it  seems,  on  the  contrary, 
ennobling.  It  is  precisely  because  man  feels  a  mys- 
tery within  himself  that  he  admits  it  may  be  higher  iu 
others ;  if  spirits  whisper  to  him  in  dreams  and  airy 
passages  of  trembling  light,  or  in  the  music  never 
heard  but  ever  felt  below,  what  may  not  be  revealed 
to  others  ?  You  may  tell  me  if  you  will  that  proph- 
ecies are  all  rubbish  and  magic  a  lie,  and  it  may  be  so, 
—  nay,  is  so,  but  the  awful  mystery  of  the  Unknown 
without  a  name  and  the  yearning  to  penetrate  it  is, 
and  is  all  the  more,  because  I  have  found  all  proph- 
ecies and  jugglings  and  thaumaturgy  fail  to  bridge 
over  the  abyss.  It  is  since  I  have  read  with  love 
and  faith  the  evolutionists  and  physiologists  of  the 
most  advanced  type  that  the  Unknown  has  become 
to  me  most  wonderful,  and  that  I  have  seen  the  light 
which  never  shone  on  sea  or  land  as  I  never  saw  it 
before.  And  therefore  to  me  the  gypsy  and  all  the 
races  who  live  in  freedom  and  near  to  nature  are 
more  poetic  than  ever.  For  which  reason,  after  the 
laws  of  acoustics  have  fully  explained  to  me  why  the 
nautilus  sounds  like  a  far  off-ocean  dirge,  the  unutter- 
able longing  to  know  more  seizes  upon  me, 

"  Till  my  heart  is  full  of  longing 

For  the  secret  of  the  sea, 
And  the  heart  of  the  great  ocean 
Sends  a  thrilling  pulse  through  me." 

That  gypsy  fortune-teller,  sitting  in  the  shadow,  is, 
moreover,  interesting  as  a  living  manifestation  of  a 
dead  past.  As  in  one  of  her  own  shells  when  petri- 
fied we  should  have  the  ancient  form  without  its 
color,  all  the  old  elements  being  displaced  by  new 
ones,  so  we  have~the  old  magic  shape,  though  every 
atom  in  it  is  different ;  the  same,  yet  not  the  same 


292  GYPSIES  IN  THE  EAST. 

Life  in  the  future,  and  the  divination  thereof,  was  a 
stupendous,  ever-present  reality  to  the  ancient  Egyp- 
tian, and  the  sole  inspiration  of  humanity  when  it 
produced  few  but  tremendous  results.  It  is  when  we 
see  it  in  such  living  forms  that  it  is  most  interest- 
ing. As  in  Western  wilds  we  can  tell  exactly  by  the 
outline  of  the  forests  where  the  borders  of  ancient 
inland  seas  once  ran,  so  in  the  great  greenwood  of 
history  we  can  trace  by  the  richness  or  absence  of 
foliage  and  flower  the  vanished  landmarks  of  poetry, 
or  perceive  where  the  enchantment  whose  charm  has 
now  flown  like  the  snow  of  the  foregone  year  once 
reigned  in  beauty.  So  a  line  of  lilies  has  shown  me 
where  the  sea-foam  once  fell,  and  pine-trees  sang  of 
masts  preceding  them. 

"  I  sometimes  think  that  never  blows  so  red 
The  rose  as  where  some  buried  Ctcsar  bled  ; 
That  every  hyacinth  the  garden  wears 
Dropt  in  her  lap  from  some  once  lovely  head."  1 

The  memory  of  that  court-yard  reminds  me  that  I 
possess  two  Persian  tiles,  each  with  a  story.  There  is 
a  house  in  Cairo  which  is  said  to  be  more  or  less 
contemporary  with  the  prophet,  and  it  is  inhabited  by 
an  old  white-bearded  emir,  more  or  less  a  descend- 
ant of  the  prophet.  This  old  gentleman  once  gave 
as  a  precious  souvenir  to  an  American  lady  two  of 
the  beautiful  old  tiles  from  his  house,  whereof  I  had 
one.  In  the  eyes  of  a  Muslim  there  is  a  degree  of 
sanctity  attached  to  this  tile,  as  one  on  which  the 
eyes  of  the  prophet  may  have  rested,  —  or  at  least 
the  eyes  of  those  who  were  nearer  to  him  than  we 
are.  Long  after  I  returned  from  Cairo  I  wrote  and 

1  Omar  Khayya'm,  Rubaiyat. 


GYPSIES  IN  THE  EAST.  293 

published  a  fairy-book  called  Johnnykin,1  in  which 
occurred  the  following  lines :  — 

Trust  not  the  Ghoul,  love, 

Heed  riot  his  smile  ; 
Out  of  the  Mosque,  love, 

He  stole  the  tile. 

One  day  my  friend  the  Palmer  from  over  the  sea 
came  to  me  with  a  present.  It  was  a  beautiful  Per- 
sian tile. 

"  Where  did  you  get  it  ?  "  I  asked. 

"  I  stole  it  out  of  a  mosque  in  Syria." 

"  Did  you  ever  read  my  Johnnykin  ?  " 

"  Of  course  not." 

"  I  know  you  never  did."  Here  I  repeated  the  verse. 
"  But  you  remember  what  the  Persian  poet  says: — 

" '  And  never  since  the  vine-clad  earth  was  young 
Was  some  great  crime  committed  on  the  earth, 
But  that  some  poet  prophesied  the  deed.' " 

"  True,    and   also   what  the   great   Tsigane   poet 

sang :  — 

" '  O  manush  te  lela  sossi  choredd, 
Wafodiro  se  te  choramengr6.' 

"  He  who  takes  the  stolen  ring, 
Is  worse  than  he  who  stole  the  thing." 

"  And  it  would  have  been  better  for  you,  while  you 
were  dukJcerin  or  prophesying,  to  have  prophesied 
about  something  more  valuable  than  a  tile." 

And  so  it  came  to  pass  that  the  two  Persian  tiles, 
one  given  by  a  descendant  of  the  Prophet,  and  the 
other  the  subject  of  a  prophecy,  rest  in  my  cabinet 
side  by  side. 

In  Egypt,  as  in  Austria,  or  Syria,  or  Persia,  or  In- 
dia, the  gypsies  are  the  popular  musicians.  I  had  long 
1  Johnnykin  and  the  Goblins.  London :  Macmillan. 


294  GYPSIES  IN  mi':  r.AST. 


!;<   fur  lli<1  derivation  of   the  word    Imiijn^  and    one 
day   I  found  tliiil,  (lie  Oriental  died  a 

by  flint,  name.  Walking  one  day  with  the  I 
in  (  'ambndLM',  we  suw  in  ;i  window  :i  very  linn  Hindu 
lute,  01-  in  fact  ji  real  banjo  made  of  :i  o-ourd.  \Ve 
in<|uired,  and  found  that  it  belonged  to  ;i  mutual 
friend,  Mr.  Charles  I>  rook  field,  one  of  the  best  fel- 
lows li\in«j,  and  who,  on  boiiiL,r  forthwith  "  requi- 
sitioned" |»y  the  unanimous  voice,  of  all  who  sym- 
pathised with  me  in  my  need,  sent,  me  the  ins!  rumcnt. 
ullo  did  not  think  it  ri<dit,"  ho  said,  "to  keep  it, 
when  Philology  \v!int,e.d  it.  If  it  had  been  any  other 
]):irl.y,-  —  hut  he  always  had  a  part  ieulnr  re.  p  <•!  and 
awe  of  her."  I  do  not  .assort  that  this  discovery 
settles  (lie  origin  of  the  word  banjo,  \)\\l  the,  coinci- 
dence is,  t<>  say  the  least,  remarkable. 

I  saw  many  gypsies  in  Ki;-ypt,  hut,  learned  liltlo 
from  them.  What,  I  found  I  stated  in  a  work  called 
the  "  K-yp(ian  Sketch  Hook."  It  was  to  this  effect: 
My  first  information  was  derived  from  the  late  Khe- 
dive Ismael,  who  during  an  interview  with  mo  said, 
"  There  are  in  K^ypt  many  people  known  as  Hh:t#mn, 
or  (Jha^arin,  whoai'e  prohably  the  same  as  the 
BIGS  of  Europe.  They  are  wanderers,  who  live  in 
tents,  and  are  regarded  with  contempt,  even  by  the 
peasantry.  Their  women  tell  fortunes,  tattoo,  and 
sell  small  wares;  the,  men  work  in  iron.  They  are. 
nil  adroit  thieves,  and  noted  as  such.  The  men  may 
sometimes  he.  seen  ^oin^  round  the  country  with  mon- 
keys. In  fact-,  they  appear  to  be  in  all  respects  tho 
name  p-ople  ;ts  the  gypsies  of  Kur.-j 

I  habitually  employed,  while  in  Cairo,  the  same 
donkey-driver,  an  intelligent,  and  well-behaved  nun: 
named  Mahomet,  who  spoke  English  fairly.  On  ask 


f,  'l  1 

ing  him  if  he  could  show  me  ar.  -/lied 

tliat  there  was  a  fair  or 

mlac.  where  I  would  be  sure  '  with 

women  of  the  tribe.     'J  .he  said,  seldom 

med  into  the  city,  because  they  were  sui  :uch 

insult  and  ill-treatment  from  the  co 

On  the  day  appointed  I  rode  to  Boulac.  The  mar- 
ket was  very  interesting,  I  saw  no  Bur 
Frangi  there,  except  my  companion,  Baron  de  Cosson, 
who  afterwards  traveled  far  into  the  White  Nile  coun- 
try, and  who  had  with  his  brother  Edward  many  re- 
markable adventures  in  Abyssinia,  which  were  well 
recorded  by  the  latter  in  a  book.  All  around  were 
thousands  of  blue-skirted  and  red-tarbouched  or  white- 
turbaned  Egyptians,  buying  or  selling,  or  else  amus- 
ing themselves,  but  with  an  excess  of  outcry  and 
hallo  which  indicates  their  grown  child  character. 
There  were  dealers  in  donkeys  and  horses  roaring 
aloud,  "He  is  for  ten  napoleons!  Had  I  asked  twenty 
would  have  gladly  given  me  fifteen ! "  **  O  true 
believers,  here  is  a  Syrian  steed  which  will  give 
renown  to  the  purchaser!"  Strolling  loosely  about 
were  dealers  in  sugar-cane  and  pea-nuts,  which  are 
called  gooba  in  Africa  as  in  America,  pipe  peddlers 
and  venders  of  rosaries,  jugglers  and  minstrels.  At 
last  we  came  to  a  middle-aged  woman  seated  on  the 
ground  behind  a  basket  containing  beads,  glass  arm- 
lets, and  such  trinkets.  She  was  dressed  like  any 
Arab-woman  of  the  lower  class,  but  was  not  veiled, 
*nd  on  her  chin  blue  lines  were  tattooed.  Her  feat- 
.ires  and  expression  were,  however,  gypsy,  and  not 
Egyptian.  And  as  she  sat  there  quietly  I  wondered 
bow  a  woman  could  feel  in  her  heart  who  was  looked 
down  upon  with  infinite  scorn  by  an  Egyptian,  who 


296  GYPSIES  IN   THE  EAST. 

might  justly  be  looked  down  on  in  his  turn  with  sub- 
lime contempt  by  an  average  American  Methodist 
colored  whitewasher  who  "  took  de  '  Ledger.'  "  Yet 
there  was  in  the  woman  the  quiet  expression  which 
associates  itself  with  respectability,  and  it  is  worth 
remarking  that  whenever  a  race  is  greatly  looked 
down  on  by  another  from  the  stand-point  of  mere 
color,  as  in  America,  or  mere  religion,  as  in  Mahom- 
etan lands,  it  always  contains  proportionally  a  larger 
number  of  decent  people  than  are  to  be  found  among 
those  who  immediately  oppress  it.  An  average  Chi- 
nese is  as  a  human  being  far  superior  to  a  hoodlum, 
and  a  man  of  color  to  the  white  man  who  cannot 
speak  of  him  or  to  him  except  as  a  "  naygur  "  or  a 
"  nigger."  It  is  when  a  man  realizes  that  he  is  superior 
in  nothing  else  save  race,  color,  religion,  family,  in- 
herited fortune,  and  their  contingent  advantages  that 
he  develops  most  readily  into  the  prig  and  snob. 

I  spoke  to  the  woman  in  Romany,  using  such  words 
as  would  have  been  intelligible  to  any  of  her  race 
in  any  other  country  ;  but  she  did  not  understand 
me.  and  declared  that  she  could  speak  nothing  but 
Arabic.  At  my  request  Mahomet  explained  to  her 
that  I  had  come  from  a  distant  country  in  Orobba, 
or  Europe,  where  there  were  many  Rhagarin,  who 
said  that  their  fathers  came  from  Egypt,  and  that  I 
wished  to  know  if  any  in  the  old  country  could  speak 
the  old  language.  She  replied  that  the  Rhagarin  of 
Montesinos  could  still  speak  it ;  but  that  her  people 
in  Egypt  had  lost  the  tongue.  Mahomet,  in  translat- 
ing, here  remarked  that  Montesinos  meant  Mount 
Sinai  or  Syria.  I  then  asked  her  if  the  Rhagarin  had 
no  peculiar  name  for  themselves,  and  she  answered, 
u  Yes  ;  we  call  ourselves  Tataren." 


G.YPSIES  IN  THE  EAST.  297 

This  at  least  was  satisfactory.  All  over  Southern 
Germany  and  in  Norway  the  gypsies  are  called  Tar- 
taren,  and  though  the  word  means  Tartars,  and  is 
misapplied,  it  indicates  the  race.  The  woman  seemed 
to  be  much  gratified  at  the  interest  I  manifested  in 
her  people.  I  gave  her  a  double  piaster,  and  asked 
for  its  value  in  blue  glass  armlets.  She  gave  me  four, 
and  as  I  turned  to  depart  called  me  back,  and  with  a 
good-natured  smile  handed  me  four  more  as  a  present. 
This  generosity  was  very  gypsy-like,  and  very  unlike 
the  habitual  meanness  of  the  ordinary  Egyptian. 

After  this  Mahomet  took  me  to  a  number  of  Rha- 
garin.  They  all  resembled  the  one  whom  I  had  seen, 
and  all  were  sellers  of  small  articles  and  fortune-tell- 
ers. They  all  differed  slightly  from  common  Egyp- 
tians in  appearance,  and  were  more  unlike  them  in 
not  being  importunate  for  money,  nor  disagreeable  in 
their  manners.  But  though  they  were  as  certainly 
gypsies  as  old  Charlotte  Cooper  herself,  none  of  them, 
could  speak  Romany.  I  used  to  amuse  myself  by 
imagining  what  some  of  my  English  gypsy  friends 
would  have  done  if  turned  loose  in  Cairo  among  their 
cousins.  How  naturally  old  Charlotte  would  have 
waylaid  and  "dukkered"  and  amazed  the  English 
ladies  in  the  Muskee,  and  how  easily  that  reprobate 
old  amiable  cosmopolite,  the  Windsor  Frog,  would 
have  mingled  with  the  motley  mob  of  donkey-boys 
and  tourists  before  Shepherd's  Hotel,  and  appointed 
himself  an  attache  to  their  excursions  to  the  Pyra- 
mids, and  drunk  their  pale  ale  or  anything  else  to 
their  healths,  and  then  at  the  end  of  the  day  have 
Claimed  a  wage  for  his  politeness!  And  how  well  the 
climate  would  have  agreed  with  them,  and  how  they 
would  have  agreed  that  it  was  of  all  lands  the  best 
for  tannin,  or  tentine  out,  in  the  world  ! 


298  GYPSIES  IN  THE  EAST. 

The  gypsiest-looking  gypsy  in  Cairo,  with  whom 
I  became  somewhat  familiar,  was  a  boy  of  sixteen,  a 
snake-eharnier ;  a  dark  and  even  handsome  youth, 
but  with  eyes  of  such  wild  wickedness  that  no  one 
who  had  ever  seen  him  excited  could  hope  that  he 
would  ever  become  as  other  human  beings.  I  believe 
that  he  had  come,  as  do  all  of  his  calling,  from  a 
snake-catching  line  of  ancestors,  and  that  he  had  taken 
in  from  them,  as  did  Elsie  Vernier,  the  serpent  nature. 
They  had  gone  snaking,  generation  after  generation, 
from  the  days  of  the  serpent  worship  of  old,  it  may 
be  back  to  the  old  Serpent  himself ;  and  this  tawny, 
sinuous,  active  thing  of  evil,  this  boy,  without  the 
least  sense  of  sympathy  for  any  pain,  who  devoured  a 
cobra  alive  with  as  much  indifference  as  he  had  just 
shown  in  petting  it,  was  the  result.  He  was  a  human 
snake.  I  had  long  before  reading  the  wonderfully 
original  work  of  Doctor  Holmes  reflected  deeply  on 
the  moral  and  immoral  influences  which  serpent  wor- 
ship of  old,  in  Syria  and  other  lands,  must  have  had 
upon  its  followers.  But  Elsie  Venner  sets  forth  the 
serpent  nature  as  benumbed  or  suspended  by  cold 
New  England  winters  and  New  England  religions, 
moral  and  social  influences;  the  Ophites  of  old  and 
the  Cairene  gypsy  showed  the  boy  as  warmed  to  life  in 
lands  whose  winters  are  as  burning  summers.  Elsie 
Venner  is  not  sensual,  and  sensuality  is  the  leading 
trait  of  the  human-serpent  nature.  Herein  lies  an 
error,  just  as  a  sculptor  would  err  who  should  present 
Lady  Godiva  as  fully  draped,  or  Sappho  merely  as  a 
sweet  singer  of  Lesbos,  or  Antinous  only  as  a  fine 
young  man.  He  who  would  harrow  hell  and  rake 
out  the,  devil,  and  then  exhibit  to  us  an  ordinary  sin- 
ner, or  an  opera  louffe  "  Mefistofele,"  as  the  result, 


GYPSIES  IN  THE  EAST.  299 

reminds  one  of  the  seven  Suabians  who  went  to  hunt 
a  monster,  —  "  a  Ungeheuer"  —  and  returned  with  a 
hare.  Elsie  Vernier  is  not  a  hare  ;  she  is  a  wonderful 
creation;  but  she  is  a  winter-snake.  I  confess  that  I 
have  no  patience,  however,  with  those  who  pretend 
to  show  us  summer-snakes,  and  would  fain  dabble  with 
vice  ;  who  are  amateurs  in  the  diabolical,  and  draw- 
ing-room dilettanti  in  damnation.  Such,  as  I  have 
said  before,  are  the  aesthetic  adorers  of  Villon,  whom 
the  old  roue  himself  would  have  most  despised,  and 
the  admirers  of  "  Faustine,"  whom  Faustina  would 
have  picked  up  between  her  thumb  and  finger,  and 
eyed  with  serene  contempt  before  throwing  them  out 
of  the  window.  A  future  age  will  have  for  these 
would-be  wickeds,  who  are  only  monks  half  turned 
inside  out,  more  laughter  than  we  now  indulge  in  at 
Chloe  and  Strephon. 

I  always  regarded  my  young  friend  Abdullah  as  a 
natural  child  of  the  devil  and  a  serpent-souled  young 
sinner,  and  he  never  disappointed  me  in  my  opinion 
of  him.  I  never  in  my  life  felt  any  antipathy  to  ser- 
pents, and  he  evidently  regarded  me  as  a  sapengro,  or 
snake-master.  The  first  day  I  met  him  he  put  into 
my  hands  a  cobra  which  had  the  fangs  extracted,  and 
then  handled  an  asp  which  still  had  its  poison  teeth 
On  his  asking  me  if  I  was  afraid  of  it,  and  my  telling 
him  "  No,"  he  gave  it  to  me,  and  after  I  had  petted 
it,  he  always  manifested  an  understanding,  —  lean- 
not  say  sympathy.  I  should  have  liked  to  see  that 
boy's  sister,  if  he  ever  had  one,  and  was  not  hatched 
out  from  some  egg  found  in  the  desert  by  an  Egyp- 
tian incubus  or  incubator.  She  must  have  been  a 
charming  young  lady,  and  his  mother  must  have 
been  a  beauty,  especially  when  in  court-dress,  —  with 


300  GYPSIES  IN  THE  EAST. 

her  broom  et  prceterea  nihil.  But  neither,  alas,  could 
be  ever  seen  by  me,  for  it  is  written  in  the  "  Gittin  ' 
that  there  are  three  hundred  species  of  male  demons, 
but  what  the  female  herself  is  like  is  known  to  no 
one. 

Abdullah  first  made  his  appearance  before  me  at 
Shepherd's  Hotel,  and  despite  his  amazing  natural  im- 
pudence, which  appeared  to  such  splendid  advantage 
in  the  street  that  I  always  thought  he  must  be  a  lin- 
eal descendant  of  the  brazen  serpent  himself,  he 
evinced  a  certain  timidity  which  was  to  me  inexpli- 
cable, until  I  recalled  that  the  big  snake  of  Irish 
legends  had  shown  the  same  modesty  when  Saint 
Patrick  wanted  him  to  enter  the  chest  which  he  had 
prepared  for  his  prison.  "  Sure,  it 's  a  nate  little 
house  I  've  made  for  yees,"  said  the  saint,  "  wid  an 
iligant  parlor."  "  I  don't  like  the  look  av  it  at  all,  at 
all,"  says  the  sarpent,  as  he  squinted  at  it  suspiciously, 
"  and  I  'm  loath  to  inter  it." 

Abdullah  looked  at  the  parlor  as  if  he  too  were  loath 
to  "inter"  it;  but  he  was  in  charge  of  one  in  whom 
his  race  instinctively  trust,  so  I  led  him  in.  His  ap- 
parel was  simple  :  it  consisted  of  a  coarse  shirt,  very 
short,  with  a  belt  around  the  waist,  and  an  old  tar- 
bouch  on  his  head.  Between  the  shirt  and  his  bare 
skin,  as  in  a  bag,  was  about  a  half  peck  of  cobras, 
asps,  vipers,  and  similar  squirming  property;  while 
between  his  cap  and  his  hair  were  generally  stowed 
one  or  two  enormous  living  scorpions,  and  any  small 
serpents  that  he  could  not  trust  to  dwell  with  the 
larger  ones.  When  I  asked  Abdullah  where  he  con- 
trived to  get  such  vast  scorpions  and  such  lively  ser- 
pents, he  replied,  "  Out  in  the  desert."  I  arranged, 
n  fact,  to  go  out  with  him  some  day  a-snaking  and 


GYPSIES  IN  THE  EAST.  301 

scorp'ing,  and  have  ever  since  regretted  that  I  did  not 
avail  myself  of  the  opportunity.  He  showed  off  his 
snakes  to  the  ladies,  and  concluded  by  offering  to  eat 
the  largest  one  alive  before  our  eyes  for  a  dollar, 
which  price  he  speedily  reduced  to  a  half.  There  was 
a  young  New  England  lady  present  who  was  very  anx- 
ious to  witness  this  performance ;  but  as  I  informed 
Abdullah  that  if  he  attempted  anything  of  the  kind 
I  would  kick  him  out-of-doors,  snakes  and  all,  he 
ceased  to  offer  to  show  himself  a  cannibal.  Perhaps 
he  had  learned  what  Rabbi  Simon  ben  Yochai  taught, 
that  it  is  a  good  deed  to  smash  the  heads  of  the  best 
of  serpents,  even  as  it  is  a  duty  to  kill  the  best  of 
Goyim.  And  if  by  Goyim  he  meant  Philistines,  I 
agree  with  him. 

I  often  met  Abdullah  after  that,  and  helped  him  to 
several  very  good  exhibitions.  Two  or  three  things 
I  learned  from  him.  One  was  that  the  cobra,  when 
wide  awake,  yet  not  too  violently  excited,  lifts  its 
head  and  maintains  a  curious  swaying  motion,  which, 
when  accompanied  by  music,  may  readily  be  mistaken 
for  dancing  acquired  from  a  teacher.  The  Hindu 
sappa-wallahs  make  people  believe  that  this  "danc- 
ing "  is  really  the  result  of  tuition,  and  that  it  is  in- 
fluenced by  music.  Later,  I  found  that  the  common 
people  in  Egypt  continue  to  believe  that  the  snakes 
which  Abdullah  and  his  tribe  exhibit  are  as  dangerous 
and  deadly  as  can  be,  and  that  they  are  managed  by 
magic.  Whether  they  believe,  as  it  was  held  of  old 
by  the  Rabbis,  that  serpents  are  to  be  tamed  by  sor- 
cery only  on  the  Sabbath,  I  never  learned. 

Abcluiiah  was  crafty  enough  for  a  whole  gereration 
of  snakes,  but  in  the  wisdom  attributed  to  serpents 
he  was  woefully  wanting.  He  would  run  by  uiy  side 


302  GYPSIES  IN  THE  EAST. 

in  the  street  as  I  rode,  expecting  that  I  would  pause 
to  accept  :i  large  wiggling  scorpion  as  a  gift,  or  pur- 
chase a  viper,  I  supp  >se  for  a  riding-whip  or  a  neck- 
tic.  One  day  when  I  was  in  a  jam  of  about  a  hun- 
dred donkey-hoys,  trying  to  outride  the  roaring  mob, 
and  all  of  a  fever  with  heat  and  dust,  Abdullah  spied 
me,  and,  joining  the  mob,  kept  running  by  my  side, 
crying  in  maddening  monotony,  "  Snake,  sail !  Scor- 
pion, sah!  Very  fine  snake  to-day,  sail!" — just  as 
if  his  serpents  were  edible  delicacies,  which  were  for 
that  day  particularly  fresh  and  nice. 

There  are  three  kinds  of  gypsies  in  Egypt,  —  the 
Rhagarin,  the  Helebis,  and  the  Nauar.  They  have 
secret  jargons  among  themselves;  but  as  I  ascertained 
subsequently  from  specimens  given  by  Captain  New- 
boldt l  and  Seetzen,  as  quoted  by  Pott,2  their  language 
is  made  up  of  Arabic  "back-slang,  Turkish  and 
Greek,  with  a  very  little  Romany,  —  so  little  that  it 
is  not  wonderful  that  I  could  not  converse  with  them 
in  it.  The  Syrian  gypsies,  or  Nuri,  who  are  seen 
with  bears  and  monkeys  in  Cairo,  are  strangers  in  the 
land.  With  them  a  conversation  is  not  diilicult.  It 
is  remarkable  that  while  English,  German,  and  Turk- 
ish or  Syrian  gypsy  look  so  different  and  difficult  as 
printed  in  books,  it  is  on  the  whole  an  easy  matter  to 
get  on  with  them  in  conversation.  The  roots  being 
the  same,  a  little  management  soon  supplies  the  rest. 

Abdullah  was  a  Helebi.  The  last  time  I  saw  him 
I  was  sitting  on  the  balcony  of  Shepherd's  Hotel,  in 
the  early  evening,  with  an  American,  who  had  never 
Been  a  snake-charmer.  I  called  the  boy,  and  inad 

1  Vide  Journal  of  the  Royal  Asiatic  Society,  vol.  xvi.  part  2,  1856 
p.  285. 
*  Die  Zigeirier. 


GYPSIES  IN  THE  EAST.  303 

vertently  gave  him  his  pay  in  advance,  telling  him  to 
show  all  his  stock  in  trade.  But  the  temptation  to 
swindle  was  too  great,  and  seizing  the  coin  he  rushed 
back  into  the  darkness.  From  that  hour  I  beheld 
him  no  more.  I  think  I  can  see  that  last  gleam  of 
his  demon  eyes  as  he  turned  and  fled.  I  met  in  after- 
days  with  other  snake-boys,  but  for  an  eye  which 
indicated  an  unadulterated  child  of  the  devil,  and  for 
general  blackguardly  behavior  to  match,  I  never 
found  anybody  like  my  young  friend  Abdullah. 

The  last  snake-masters  whom  I  came  across  were 
two  sailors  at  the  Oriental  Seamen's  Home  in  London. 
And  strangely  enough,  on  the  day  of  my  visit  they 
had  obtained  in  London,  of  all  places,  a  very  large 
and  profitable  job;  for  they  had  been  employed  to 
draw  the  teeth  of  all  the  poisonous  serpents  in  the 
Zoological  Garden.  Whether  these  practitioners  ever 
applied  for  or  received  positions  as  members  of  the 
Dental  College  I  do  not  know,  any  more  than  if  they 
were  entitled  to  practice  as  surgeons  without  licenses. 
Like  all  the  Hindu  sappa-wallahs,  or  snake-men,  they 
are  what  in  Europe  would  be  called  gypsies. 


GYPSY  NAMES  AND  FAMILY  CHARAC- 
TERISTICS. 


THE  following  list  gives  the  names  of  the  principal  gypsy 
families  in  England,  with  their  characteristics.  It  was  pre- 
pared for  me  by  an  old,  well-known  Romany,  of  full  blood. 
Those  which  have  (A)  appended  to  them  are  known  to  have 
representatives  in  America.  For  myself,  I  believe  that  gyp- 
sies bearing  all  these  names  are  to  be  found  in  both  coun- 
tries. I  would  also  state  tl^at  the  personal  characteristics 
attributed  to  certain  families  are  by  no  means  very  strictly 
applicable,  neither  do  any  of  them  confine  themselves  rigidly 
to  any  particular  part  of  England.  I  have  met,  for  instance, 
with  Bosvilles,  Lees,  Coopers,  Smiths,  Bucklands,  etc.,  in 
every  part  of  England  as  well  as  Wales.  I  am  aware  that 
the  list  is  imperfect  in  all  respects. 

AYRES. 

BAILKY  (A).  Half-bloods.  Also  called  rich.  Roam  in 
Sussex. 

BARTON.     Lower  Wiltshire. 

BLACK.     Hampshire. 

BOSVILLE  (A).  Generally  spread,  but  are  specially  to  be 
found  in  Devonshire.  I  have  found  several  fine  speci- 
mens of  real  Romanys  among  the  American  Bosvilles. 
In  Romany,  ( 'Innnomishto,  that  is,  Buss  (or  Kiss)  well. 

BROADWAY  (A).     Somei 

BUCKLAND.  In  Gloucestershire,  but  abounding  over  Eng- 
land. Sometimes  called  Chokamengro,  that  is  Tailor. 


GYPSY  NAMES.  305 

BURTON  (A).     Wiltshire. 

CHAPMAN  (A).  Half-blood,  and  are  commonly  spoken  of 
as  a  rich  clan.  Travel  all  over  England. 

CHILCOTT  (vul.  CHILCOCK). 

CLARKE.     Half-blood.     Portsmouth. 

COOPER  (A).  Chiefly  found  in  Berkshire  and  Windsor. 
In  Romany,  Vardo  mescro. 

DAVIES. 

DICKENS.     Half-blood. 

DIGHTON.     Blackheath. 

DRAPER.     Hertfordshire. 

FINCH. 

FULLER.     Hardly  half-blood,  but  talk  Romany. 

GRAY.     Essex.     In  Romany,  Gry,  or  horse. 

HARE  (A).     Chiefly  in  Hampshire. 

HAZARD.     Half-blood.     Windsor. 

HERNE.  Oxfordshire  and  London.  "  Of  this  name  there 
are,"  says  Borrow  (Romano  Lavo-Lil),  "two  gypsy  ren- 
derings: (1.)  Rosar-mescro  or  Ratzie-mescro,  that  is,  duck- 
fellow ;  the  duck  being  substituted  for  the  heron,  for  which 
there  is  no  word  in  Romany,  this  being  done  because 
there  is  a  resemblance  in  the  sound  of  Heron  and  Herne. 
(2.)  Balor-engre,  or  Hairy  People,  the  translator  having 
confounded  Herne  with  Haaren,  Old  English  for  hairs." 

HICKS.     Half-blood.     Berkshire. 

HUGHES.     Wiltshire. 

IN  GRAHAM  (A).  Wales  and  Birmingham,  or  in  the  Kalo  tern 
or  Black  Country. 

JAMES.     Half-blood. 

JENKINS.     Wiltshire. 

JONES.  Half-blood.  Headquarters  at  Battersea,  near  Lon- 
don. 

LEE  (A).  The  same  in  most  respects  as  the  Smiths,  but 
are  even  more  widely  extended.  I  have  met  with  several 
of  the  most  decided  type  of  pure-blooded,  old-fashioned 
gypsies  among  Lees  in  America.  They  are  sometimes 


506  GYPSY  NAMES 

among  themselves  called  purum,  a  lee-k,  from  the  fancied 
resemblance  of  the  words. 

LEWIS.     Hampshire. 

LOCKE.     Somerset  and  Gloucestershire. 

LOVEL.  Known  in  Romany  as  Kamlo,  or  Kamescro,  that 
is,  lover.  London,  but  are  found  everywhere. 

LOVERIDGE.  Travel  iu  Oxfordshire ;  are  in  London  at 
Shepherd's  Bush. 

MARSHALL.  As  much  Scotch  as  English,  especially  in 
Dumfriesshire  and  Galloway,  in  which  latter  region,  in 
Saint  Cuthbert's  church-yard,  lies  buried  the  "old  man" 
of  the  race,  who  died  at  the  age  of  one  hundred  and 
seven.  In  Romany  Makkado-tan-engree,  that  is,  Fel- 
lows of  the  Marshes.  Also  known  as  Bungoror,  cork- 
fellows  and  Chikkenemengree,  china  or  earthenware  (lit. 
dirt  or  clay)  men,  from  their  cutting  corks,  and  peddling 
pottery,  or  mending  china. 

MATTHEWS.     Half-blood.     Surrey. 

NORTH. 

PETULENGRO,  or  SMITH.  The  Romany  name  Petulengro 
means  Master  of  the  Horseshoe ;  that  is,  Smith.  The 
gypsy  who  made  this  list  declared  that  he  had  been  ac- 
quainted with  Jasper  Petulengro,  of  Sorrow's  Lavengro, 
and  that  he  died  near  Norwich  about  sixty  years  ago. 
The  Smiths  are  general  as  travelers,  but  are  chiefly  to 
be  found  in  the  East  of  England. 

PIKE.     Berkshire. 

PixroLD,  or  TENFOLD.  Half  and  quarter  blood.  Widely 
extended,  but  most  at  home  in  London. 

ROLLIN  (ROLAND  ?).     llalt'-blood.     Chiefly  about  London. 

STAMP.  Chiefly  in  Kent.  A  small  clan.  Mr.  Borrow  de- 
rives (his  name  from  (he  Sanskrit  Ksump,  to  go.  I 
trust  that  it  has  not  a  more  recent  and  purely  English 
derivation. 

SHAW. 

SMALL  (A).  Found  in  West  England,  chiefly  iu  Somerset 
and  Devonshire. 


AND  FAMILY  CHARACTERISTICS.  307 

STANLEY  (A).  One  of  the  most  extended  clans,  but  said 
to  be  chiefly  found  in  Devonshire.  They  sometimes  call 
themselves  in  joke  Beshahiy,  that  is,  Sit-Down,  from  the 
word  stan,  suggesting  standing  up  in  connection  with  lay. 
Also  Bangor,  or  Barornescre,  that  is.  Stone  (stan)  people. 
Thus  "  Stony-lea  "  was  probably  their  first  name.  Also 
called  Kashtengrees,  Woodmen,  from  the  New  Forest. 

TAYLOR.  A  clan  described  as  diddikai,  or  half-bloods. 
Chiefly  in  London.  This  clan  should  be  the  only  one 
known  as  Chokamengro. 

TURNER. 

WALKER.     Half-blood.     Travel  about  Surrey. 

WELLS  (A).     Half-blood.     Somerset. 

WIIARTON.  WORTON.  I  have  only  met  the  Whartons  in 
America. 

WHEELER.     Pure  and  half-blood.     Battersea. 

WHITE. 

"  Adre  o  Lavines  tern  o  Romanies  see  WOODS,  ROBERTS, 
WILLIAMS,  and  JONES.  In  Wales  the  gypsies  are  Woods, 
Roberts,  Williams,  and  Jones."  l 

CHARACTERISTICS.8 

Of  these  gypsies  the  BAILIES  are  fair. 
The  BIRDS  are  in  Norfolk  and  Suffolk. 
The  BLACKS  are  dark,  stout,  and  strong. 
The  BOSVILLES  are  rather  short,  fair,  stout,  and  heavy. 
The  BROADWAYS  are  fair,  of  medium  height  and  good 
figures. 

The  BUCKLANDS  are  thin,  dark,  and  tallish. 
The  BUNCES  travel  in  the  South  of  England. 
The  BURTONS  are  short,  dark,  and  very  active. 
The  CHAPMANS  are  fair. 

1  The.  Dialect  of  the.  English  Gypsies. 

2  I  beg-  the  reader  to  bear  it  in  mind  that  all  this  is  literally  as  it 
was  given  by  an  old  gypsy,  and  that  I  am  not  i-esponsible  for  its  ac- 
curacy or  inaccuracy. 


808  GYPSY  NAMES 

The  CLARKES  are  fair  and  well-sized  men. 

The  COOPERS  are  short,  dark,  and  very  active. 

The  DIGHTONS  are  very  dark  and  stout. 

The  DRAPERS  are  very  tall  and  large  and  dark. 

The  FAAS  are  at  Kirk  Yetholm,  in  Scotland. 

The  GRAYS  are  very  large  and  fair. 

The  GREENES  are  small  and  dark. 

The  GREGORIES  range  from  Surrey  to  Suffolk. 

The  HARES  are  large,  stout,  and  dark. 

The  HAZARDS  are  tall  and  fair. 

The  HERNES  (Herons)  are  very  large  and  dark. 

The  HICKS  are  very  large,  strong,  and  fair. 

The  HUGHES  are  short,  stubby,  and  dark. 

The  INGRAHAMS  are  fair  and  all  of  medium  height. 
.  The  JENKINS  are  dark,  not  large,  and  active. 

The  JONES  are  fair  and  of  middling  height. 

The  LANES  are  fair  and  of  medium  height. 

The  LEES  are  dark,  tall,  and  stout. 

The  LEWIS  arc  dark  and  of  medium  height. 

The  LIGHTS  are  half-bloods,  and  travel  in  Middlesex. 

The  LOCKES  are  shortish,  dark,  and  large. 

The  LOVELLS  are  dark  and  large. 

The  MACES  are  about  Norwich. 

The  MATTHEWS   are   thick,  short,  and  stout,  fair,  and 
good  fi ^liters. 

The  MILLERS  are  at  Battersea. 

NORTH.     Are  to  be  found  at  Shepherd's  Bush. 

The  OLIVERS  are  in  Kent. 

The  PIKES  are  light  and  very  tall. 

The  PINFOLDS  are  light,  rather  tall,  not  heavy.     (Are 
really  a  Norfolk  family.     F.  Groome.) 

The  ROLANDS  ar<>  rather  lurgc  and  dark. 

The  SCAMPS  are  very  dark  and  stout. 

The  SIIAWS  travel  in  Miildl< 

The  SMALLS  are  tall,  stout,  and  fair. 

The  SMITHS  are  dark,  rather  tall,  slender,  and  active. 

The  STANLEYS  are  tall,  dark,  and  handsome. 


AND  FAMILY  CHARACTERISTICS.  309 

The  TAYLORS  are  short,  stout,  and  dark. 
The  TURNERS  are  also  in  Norfolk  and  Suffolk. 
The  WALKERS  are  stout  and  fair. 
The  WELLS  are  very  light  and  tall. 
The  WHEELERS  are  thin  and  fair. 
The  WHITES  are  short  and  light. 

The  YOUNGS  are  very  dark.  They  travel  in  the  northern 
counties,  and  belong  both  to  Scotland  and  England. 

The  following  is  a  collection  of  the  more  remark- 
able "fore"  or  Christian  names  of  Romany s  :  — 

MASCULINE    NAMES. 

Opi  Boswell. 

Wanselo,  or  Anselo.  I  was  once  of  the  opinion  that  this 
name  was  originally  Lancelot,  but  as  Mr.  Borrow  has  found 
Wentzlow,  i.  e.,  Wenceslas,  in  England,  the  latter  is  prob- 
ably the  original.  I  have  found  it  changed  to  Onslow,  as 
the  name  painted  on  a  Romany  van  in  Aberystwith,  but  it 
was  pronounced  Anselo. 

Pastor-rumis. 

Spico. 

Jineral,  *.  e.,  General  Cooper. 

Horferus  and  Horfer.  Either  Arthur  or  Orpheus.  His 
name  was  then  changed  to  Wacker-doll,  and  finally  settled 
into  Wacker. 

Plato  or  Platos  Buckland. 

Wine- Vinegar  Cooper.  The  original  name  of  the  child 
bearing  this  extraordinary  name  was  Owen.  He  died  soon 
after  birth,  and  was  in  consequence  always  spoken  of  as 
Wine-Vinegar,  —  Wine  for  the  joy  which  his  parents  had 
»t  his  birth,  and  Vinegar  to  signify  their  grief  at  his  loss. 

Gilderoy  Buckland.  Silvauus  Boswell. 

Lancelot  Cooper.  Sylvester,  Vester,  Wester, 

Oscar  Buckland.  Westarus  and  'Starus. 

Dimiti  Buckland.  Liberty. 

Piramus  Boswell.  Goliath. 


310  GYPSY  NAMES 

Reconcile.  Octavius. 

Justerinus.  Render  Smith. 

Faunio. 

Shek-esu.  I  am  assured  on  good  authority  that  a  gypsy 
had  a  child  baptized  by  this  name. 

Artaros.  Sacki. 

Culvato  (Claude).  Spysell. 

Divervus.  Spico. 

Lasho,  i.  e.,  Louis. 

Vesuvius.  I  do  not  know  whether  any  child  was  actually 
called  by  this  burning  cognomen,  but  I  remember  that  a 
gypsy,  hearing  two  gentlemen  talking  about  Mount  Ve- 
suvius, was  greatly  impressed  by  the  name,  and  consulted 
with  them  as  to  the  propriety  of  giving  it  to  his  little  boy. 

Wisdom.  Loverin. 

Inverto.  Mantis. 

Studaveres  Lovel.  Happy  Boswell. 

FEMININE   NAMES. 

Selinda,  Slinda,  Linda,  Sliudi.   Delilah. 

Mia.  Prudence. 

Mizelia,  Mizelli,  Mizela.  Providence. 

Lina.  Eve. 

Pendivella.  Athaliah. 

Jewranum,  t.  e.,  Geranium.  Gentilla,  Gentie. 

Virgin  ta.  Synfie.   Probably  Cynthia. 

Suby,  Azuba.  Sybie.       Probably      from 

Isaia.  Sibyl. 

Richenda.  Canairis. 

Kiomi.  Fenella. 

Liberiua.  Floure,  Flower,  Flora. 

Malindi.  Kisaiya. 

Otchame.  Orlenda. 

Renee.  Reyora,  Regina. 

Sinaminta.  Syeira.     Probably  Cyra. 

Y-yra  or  Yeira.  Truffeni. 

Delira,  Deleera.  Ocean  Solis. 


AND  FAMILY  CHARACTERISTICS.  311 

Marili  Stanley.  Penelli.       Possibly    from 

Britannia.  Fenella. 

Glani.  Segel  Buckland. 

Zuba.  Morella  Knightly. 

Sybarini  Cooper.  Eza. 

Esmeralda  Locke.  Lenda. 

Penti.  Collia. 

Reservi.  This  extraordinary  name  was  derived  from  a 
reservoir,  by  which  some  gypsies  were  camped,  and  where 
a  child  was  born. 

.Lementina.  Casello  (Celia). 

Rodi.  Catseye. 

Alablna.  Trainette. 

Dosia.  Perpinia. 

Lavi.  Dora. 

Silvina.  Starlina. 

Richenda.  Bazena. 

Marbelenni.  Bena. 

Ashena.  Ewri. 

Vashti.  Koket. 

Jfouregh.  Lusho. 


GYPSY  STORIES. 

IN  ROMANY,  WITH  TRANSLATION. 
MERLINOS   TE  TRINALI. 

"  MiRO  koko,  pen  mandy  a  rinkeno  gudlo  ?  " 
Avail  miri  chavi.  Me  'tvel  pen  tute  dui  te 
shyan  trin,  vonka  tute  'atches  sar  pukeno.  Shun 
amengi.  Yeckorus  adre  o  Lavines  tern  sos  a  boro 
chovihan,  navdo  Merlinos.  Gusvero  mush  sos  Mer- 
linos,  buti  seeri  covva  yuv  asti  kair.  Jindas  yuv  ta 
pur  yeck  jivnipen  adr&o  waver,  saster  adrd  o  rupp, 
te  o  rupp  adrd  sonakai.  Find  covva  sos  adovo  te  sos 
miro.  Te  longoduro  fon  leste  jivdes  a  bori  chovihani, 
Trinali  sos  lakis  nav.  Boridiri  chovihani  sos  Trinali, 
buti  manushe  seerdas  yoi,  buti  ryor  purdas  yoi  adrd 
mylia  te  balor,  te  nd  kesserdas  yeck  haura  pa  sar 
lender  dush. 

Yeck  divvus  Merlinos  lias  lester  chovihaneskro  ran 
te  jas  aduro  ta  latcher  i  chovihani  te  pessur  laki 
drovan  pa  siir  lakis  wafropen.  Te  pa  adovo  tacho 
divvus  i  rani  Trinali  shundas  sa  Merlinos  boro  ruslo 
sorelo  chovihan  se,  te  pendas,  "  Sossi  ajafra  mush  ? 
Me  dukkerava  leste  or  yuv  tevel  mer  mande,  s'up 
mi  o  beng  !  me  shorn  te  seer  leste.  Mukkamen  dikk 
savo  lela  kumi  shunaben,  te  savo  se  o  jinescrodiro?  " 
Te  adoi  o  Merlinos  jas  aprd  o  dromus,  sarodfvvus 
akonyo,  sarja  adrd  o  kamescro  dud,  te  Trinali  jas 


GYPSY  STORIES.  313 

adre*  o  wesh  sarja  adrd  o  ratinus,  o  tarn,  o  kalopen, 
o  sliure,  denne  yoi  sos  chovihaui.  Kennasig,  yan 
latcherde  yeckawaver,  awer  Merlinos  nd  jindas  yoi 
sos  Trinali,  te  Trinali  i\6  jindas  adovo  manusli  se 
Merlinos.  Te  yuv  sos  buti  kamelo  ke  laki,  te  yoi 
apopli ;  kemiasig  yandui  ankairde  ta  kam  yecka- 
waver butidiro.  Vonka  yeck  jinella  adovo  te  o  waver 
jinella  lis,  kek  boro  chirus  tvel  i  duT  sosti  jinavit. 
Merlinos  te  Trinali  pende  "  me  kamava  tute,"  sig 
ketenes,  te  chumerde  yeckawaver,  te  beshde  alay 
rikkerend  adre*  o  simno  pelashta  te  rakkerde  kuslito 
bak. 

Te  adenna  Merlinos  pukkerdas  laki,  yuv  jas  ta 
dusher  a  buti  wafodi  cliovihani,  te  Trinali  pendas 
lesko  o  simno  covva,  sa  yoi  sos  ruzno  ta  kair  o  simno 
keti  a  boro  chovihano.  Te  i  dui  ankairede  ta  man- 
ger yeckawaver  ta  mukk  o  covva  ja,  te  yoi  te  yuv 
shomas  atrash  o  nasherin  lende  pireno  te  pireni. 
Awer  Merlinos  pendas,  *' Mandy  sovaballdom  pa  o 
kam  ta  pur  laki  pa  sar  lakis  jivaben  adr£  o  waver 
truppo."  Te  yoi  ruvvedas  te  pendas,  "  Sovahalldaa 
me  pa  o  chone  ta  pur  adovo  chovihano  adre  awavero, 
sim's  tnte."  Denna  Merlinos  putcberdas,  "  Sasi  les- 
•jers  nav  ?  "  Yoi  pendas,  u  Merlinos."  Yuv  rakkere- 
das  palall,  "  Me  shorn  leste,  sasi  tiro  nav  ?  "  Yoi 
shelledas  avrT,  "  Trinali !  " 

Kenna  vanka  cbovihanis  sovahallan  chumeny  apr^ 
o  kam  te  i  choni,  yan  sosti  keravit  or  m^r.  Te  denna 
Merlinos  pendas,  "  Jinesa  tu  sa  ta  kair  akovo  pennis 
Bar  kushto  te  tacho  ?  "  "  Kekker  miro  kamlo  pireno," 
pendas  i  chori  chovihani  sil  yoi  ruvdas."  "Denna 
me  shorn  kumi  jinescro,  ne  tute,"  pendas  Merlinos. 
"  Shukar  te  kuslito  covva  se  akovo,  miri  romni.  Me 
tevel  pur  tute  adre*  mande,  te  mande  adre'  tute.  Te 
vonka  mendui  shorn  romadi  mendui  tevel  yeck." 


814  GYPSY  STORIES. 

Sa  yeck  mush  ta  divvus  kenna  p  nella  yoi  siggevdas 
leste,  te  awavero  pens  yuv  piggerdas  laid.  Ne  jinava 
me  miri  kameli.  Ne  dikkdas  tu  kekker  a  dui  sheres- 
cro  haura  ?  Avail !  Wiisser  lis  uppar,  te  vanka  lis 
pellalay  pukk  amengy  savo  rikk  se  alay.  Welsher 
pendas  man  adovo.  Welsheri  pennena  sarja  tacho- 
pen. 

MERLIN  AND  TEINALI. 

"  My  uncle,  tell  me  a  pretty  story !  " 

Yes,  my  child.  I  will  tell  you  two,  and  perhaps 
three,  if  you  keep  very  quiet.  Listen  to  me.  Once 
in  Wales  there  was  a  great  wizard  named  Merlin. 
Many  magic  things  he  could  do.  He  knew  how  to 
change  one  living  being  into  another,  iron  into  silver, 
and  silver  into  gold.  A  fine  thing  that  would  be  if  it 
were  mine.  And  afar  from  him  lived  a  great  witch. 
Trinali  was  her  name.  A  great  witch  was  Trinali. 
Many  men  did  she  enchant,  many  gentlemen  did  she 
change  into  asses  and  pigs,  and  never  cared  a  copper 
for  all  their  sufferings. 

One  day  Merlin  took  his  magic  rod,  and  went  afar 
to  find  the  witch,  and  pay  her  severely  for  all  her 
wickedness.  And  on  that  very  [true]  day  the  lady 
Trinali  heard  how  Merlin  was  [isj  a  great,  powerful 
wi/ard,  and  said,  "  What  sort  of  a  man  is  this?  I 
will  punish  him  or  he  shall  kill  me,  deuce  help  me! 
.  will  bewitch  him.  Let  us  see  who  has  the  most 
cleverness  and  who  is  the  most  knowing.  "  And 
then  Merlin  went  on  the  road  all  day  alone,  always 
in  sunshine  ;  and  Trinali  went  in  (lie  forest,  always  in 
the,  shade,  tin;  darkness,  the  gloom,  for  she  was  a 
black  witch.  Soon  they  found  one  another,  but  Mer- 
lin did  not  know  [that]  she  was  Trinali,  and  Trinah 


GYPSY  STORIES.  315 

did  not  know  that  man  was  [is  to  be]  Merlin.  And 
he  was  very  pleasant  to  her,  and  she  to  him  again. 
Very  soon  the  two  began  to  love  one  another  very 
much.  When  one  knows  that  and  the  other  knows 
it,  both  will  soon  know  it.  Merlin  and  Trinali  said 
"  I  love  thee  "  both  together,  and  kissed  one  another, 
and  sat  down  wrapped  in  the  same  cloak,  and  con- 
versed happily. 

Then  Merlin  told  her  he  was  going  to  punish  a 
very  wicked  witch ;  and  Trinali  told  him  the  same 
thing,  how  she  was  bold  [daring]  to  do  the  same 
thing  to  a  great  wizard.  And  the  two  began  to  beg 
one  another  to  let  the  thing  go,  and  she  and  he  were 
afraid  of  losing  lover  and  sweetheart.  But  Merlin 
said,  "  I  swore  by  the  sun  to  change  her  for  her 
whole  life  into  another  form  "  [body]  ;  and  she  wept 
and  said,  "  I  swore  by  the  moon  to  change  that  wiz- 
ard into  another  [person]  even  as  you  did."  Then 
Merlin  inquired,  "  What  is  his  name  ?  "  She  said, 
"Merlin."  He  replied,  "I  am  he;  what  is  your 
name  ?  "  She  cried  aloud,  "  Trinali." 

Now  when  witches  swear  anything  on  the  snn  or 
the  moon,  they  must  do  it  or  die.  Then  Merlin  said, 
44  Do  you  know  how  to  make  this  business  all  nice 
and  right?"  "Not  at  all,  my  dear  love,"  said  the 
poor  witch,  as  she  wept.  "  Then  I  am  cleverer  than 
you,"  said  Merlin.  "  An  easy  and  nice  thing  it  is, 
my  bride.  For  I  will  change  you  into  me,  and  myself 
into  you.  And  when  we  are  married  we  two  will  be 
one." 

So  one  man  says  nowadays  that  she  conquered 
him,  and  another  that  he  conquered  her.  I  do  not 
know  [which  it  was],  my  dear.  Did  you  ever  see  a 
two-headed  halfpenny  ?  Yes  ?  Throw  it  up,  and 


i 


316  GYPSY  STORIES. 

when  it  falls  down  ask  me  which  side  is  under.  A 
Welsher  told  me  that  story.  Welshers  always  tell 
the  truth. 

O  PUV-SUVER. 

Yeckorus  sims  buti  kedivvus,  sos  rakli,  te  yoi  sos 
kushti  partanengrT,  te  yoi  astis  kair  a  rinkeno  plachta, 
yeck  sar  divvus.  Te  covakai  chi  kamdas  rye  butidiro, 
awer  yeck  divvus  lakis  pireno  sos  stardo  adr£  staru- 
ben.  Te  vonka  yoi  shundas  Us,  yoi  hushtiedas  apre* 
te  jas  keti  krallis  te  mangerdas  leste  choruknes  ta 
mukk  lakis  pireno  ja  piro.  Te  krallis  patserdaa  Ifiki 
tevel  yoi  kairdas  leste  a  rinkeno  plachta,  yeck  sar 
divvus  pa  kurikus,  hafta  plachta  pa  hafta  divvus,  yuv 
tvel  ferdel  leste,  te  d6  leste  tachaben  ta  ja  'vii.  I 
tani  rani  siggerdas  ta  keravit,  te  pa  sbov  divvus  yoi 
taderedas  adrom,  kushti  zT,  pii  lis  te  sarkon  chirus 
ad  re  o  shab  yoi  bitr.lu'nlas  plaulita  keta  krallis.  Awer 
avella  yeck  divvus  yoi  sos  kinlo,  te  pendes  yoi  ne*i 
kamdas  kair  butsi  "dovo  divvus  si  sos  brishnu  te  yoi 
nestis  shiri  a  sappa  clre  o  kamlo  dud.  Adenn'  o  krallis 
pen  das  te  yoi  nestis  kair  butsi  hafta  divvus  lava  lakis 
pireno,  o  rye  sosti  hatch  staramescro  te  yoi  ne  mukk- 
tlas  ktiinaben  aclosta  pa  leste.  Te  i  rakli  sos  sa  liun- 
Malo  te  tukno  drc  lakis  zT  yoi  merdas  o  ruvvin  te  lias 
puraben  adrc  o  puv-suver.  Te  keti  divvus  kenna  yoi 
paiulella  apre  lakris  tavia,  vonka  kam  peshella,  te  i 
cuttor  pani  tu  dikoss'  apre  lende  slian  o  panni  fon 
lakis  yakka  yoi  ruvdas  pa  liikris  pTreno. 

Te  tu  vi-l  hatch  kaulo  y<'ck  lilieskro  divvus  tu  astis 
nashcr  sar  o  kairobcn  fon  o  chollo  kurikus,  miri  chavi. 
Tu  peness'  tu  kamess1  to  shun  waveri  gudli.  Sar 
tacho.  Mo  tevel  puker  tute  rinkno  gudlo  apre  kali 
fold.  Repper  tute  sarkon  me  penava  sa  me  repper 
das  lis  fon  miro  babus. 


GYPSY  STORIES.  317 

THE  SPIDER.* 

Once  there  was  a  girl,  as  there  are  many  to-day, 
and  she  was  a  good  needle-worker,  and  could  make  a 
beautiful  cloak  in  one  day.  And  that  [there]  girl 
loved  a  gentleman  very  much ;  but  one  day  her  sweet- 
heart was  shut  up  in  prison,  and  when  she  heard  it 
she  hastened  and  went  to  the  king,  and  begged  him 
humbly  to  let  her  love  go  free.  And  the  king  prom- 
ised her  if  she  would  make  him  a  fine  cloak, —  one 
every  day  for  a  week,  seven  cloaks  for  seven  days,  — 
he  would  forgive  him,  and  give  him  leave  to  go  free. 
The  young  lady  hastened  to  do  it,  and  for  six  days 
she  worked  hard  [lit.  pulled  away]  cheerfully  at  it, 
and  always  in  the  evening  she  sent  a  cloak  to  the 
king.  But  it  came  [happened]  one  day  that  she  was 
tired,  and  said  [that]  she  did  not  wish  to  work  be- 
cause it  was  rainy,  and  she  could  not  dry  or  bleach 
the  cloth  [  ?  ]  in  the  sunlight.  Then  the  king  said 
that  if  she  could  not  work  seven  days  to  get  her  lover 
the  gentleman  must  remain  imprisoned,  for  she  did 
not  love  him  as  she  should  [did  not  let  love  enough 
on  him].  And  the 'maid  was  so  angry  and  vexed  in 
her  heart  [or  soul]  that  she  died  of  grief,  and  was 
changed  into  a  spider.  And  to  this  day  she  spreads 
out  her  threads  when  the  sun  shines,  and  the  dew- 
drops  which  you  see  on  them  are  the  tears  which  she 
has  wept  for  her  lover. 

If  you  remain  idle  one  summer  day  you  may  lose  a 
whole  week's  work,  my  dear.  You  say  that  you 
would  like  to  hear  more  stories !  All  right.  I  will 
tell  you  a  nice  story  about  lazy  people.2  Remember 

1  Literally,  the  earth-sewer. 

2  Kali  foki.    Kdlo  means,  as  in  Hindustani,  not  only  black,  but 
also  lazy.    Pronounced  kaw-lo. 


318  GYPSY  STORIES. 

all  I  toll  you,  as  I  remembered  it  from  my  grand- 
father. 

GORGIO,  KALO-MANUSII,   TE  ROM. 

Yeckorus  pfi  ankairoben,  kon  i  manushia  nanei  la- 
via,  o  boro  Duvel  jas  pirian.  Siisiasar?  Shun  mirx 
cliavi,  me  givellis  tute  :  — 

Buti  beshia  kedivvtis  kenna 

Adre  o  tern  ankairobeu, 
0  boro  Diivel  jas  'vrl  ajii, 

Ta  dikk  i  inushia  miraben. 

Sa  yuv  pirridas,  dikkdas  trin  musbia  pash  o  dromes- 
cro  rikk,  hatcliin  keti  chomano  mush  te  vel  d<j  lenclis 
navia,  te  len  putcherde  o  boro  Duvel  ta  navver  Icnde. 
Dordi,  o  yeckto  mush  sos  pano,  te  o  boro  Duvel  puk- 
kerdas  kavodoi,  "  Gorgio."  Te  yuv  sikkerdas  leste 
kokero  keti  dovo,  te  suderdas  leste  buti  kami'li  sa 
Jewries,  te  rinkeni  rudaben,  te  jas  gor<i''nu*.  Te  o 
wavescro  geero  sos  kalo  sa  skunya,  te  o  boro  Diivel 
pemlas,  "•  Nigger!"  te  yuv  nikkercda*  adnun,  sa 
sujery  te  muzhili,  te  yuvse  nikkerin  sarja  keti  keniia, 
ad rd  o  kamescro  dud,  te  yuv's  kalo-kalo  ta  kair  butsi, 
nanei  tu  serbers  leste  keti  lis,  te  tazzers  lis.  Te  o 
trinto  rnush  sos  brauno,  te  yuv  bj-shdas  pfikeno,  tuvin 
.este's  swagler,  keti  o  boro  Duvel  rakkenlas,  "  Rom  !  " 
te  adenna  o  mush  hatchedaa  a])re,  te  pandas  buti 
kamelo,  "Parraco  Rya  tiro  kushtaben ;  mo  (c  vcl 
mislito  piav  tiro  snstopen  !  "  '\\>  jas  romeli  a  r<><nn;n 
langs  i  lescro  ronini,  to  ki-kkor  dukUerdas  lostor  koko- 
rus,  116  kossordas  pa  chiclii  ion  adennadoi  keti  koiina, 
te  jas  adrnl  o  swoli,  te  kckkcr  hatchcdas  pukcnus,  te 
nanei  Imdder  ta  keravit  ket1  o  boro  Duvel  ponel!'  o 
lav.  Tacho  adovo  se  sa  tiri  yakka,  miri  kamli. 


GYPSY  STORIES.  .  319 

GORGIO,1  BLACK  MAN,  AND  GYPSY. 

Once  in  the  creation,  when  men  had  no  names,  the 
Lord  went  walking.  How  was  that  ?  Listen,  my 
child,  I  will  sing  it  to  yon :  — 

Many  a  year  has  passed  away 

Since  the  world  was  first  begun, 
That  the  great  Lord  went  out  one  day 

To  see  how  men's  lives  went  on. 

As  he  walked  along  he  saw  three  men  by  the  road- 
side, waiting  till  some  man  would  give  them  names  ; 
and  they  asked  the  Lord  to  name  them.  See !  the 
first  man  was  white,  and  the  Lord  called  him  Gorgio. 
Then  he  adapted  himself  to  that  name,  and  adorned 
himself  with  jewelry  and  fine  clothes,  and  went  gor- 
geous. And  the  other  man  was  black  and  the  Lord 
called  him  Nigger,  and  he  lounged  away  [nikker,  to 
lounge,  loiter;  an  attempted  pun],  so  idle  and  foul; 
and  he  is  always  lounging  till  now  in  the  sunshine, 
and  he  is  too  lazy  [kalo-kalo,  black-black,  or  lazy- 
lazy,  that  is,  too  black  or  too  lazy]  to  work  unless 
you  compel  and  punish  him.  And  the  third  man 
was  brown,  and  he  sat  quiet,  smoking  his  pipe,  till 
the  Lord  said,  Rom  !  [gypsy,  or  "  roam  "]  ;  and  then 
that  man  arose  and  said,  very  politely,  "  Thank  you, 
Lord,  for  your  kindness.  I  'd  be  glad  to  drink  your 
health."  And  he  went,  Romany  fashion,  a-roaming2 
with  his  romni  [wife],  and  never  troubled  himself 
about  anything  from  that  time  till  to-day,  and  went 
through  the  world,  and  never  rested  and  never  wished 

1  Goryio.    Gentile  ;  any  man  not  a  gypsy.    Possibly  from  f/hora  aji 
"Master  white  man,"  Hindu.     Used  as  yoi  is  applied  hy  Hebrews  to 
the  unbelievers. 

2  Romeli,  rom'ni.    Wandering,  gypsyiug.     It  is  remarkable  that 
r*mna,  in  Hindu,  means  to  roam. 


320  GYPSY  STORIES. 

to  until  the  Lord  speaks  the  word.     That  is  all  as 
true  as  your  eyes,  my  dear ! 


TAG-BAR  TE  SASTER. 

8A    O  KAM    SOS   ANKERDO. 

"  Pen  mandy  a  waver  gudlo  trustal  o  ankairoben ! " 
N<5  shomas  adoi,  awer  shundom  buti  apa  lis  fon  miro 
babus.  Foki  pende  mengy  sa  o  chollo-tem  l  sos  ke"rdo 
fori  o  kam,  awer  i  Romany  chalia  savo  keren  sar 
chingernes,  pen  o  kam  sos  kerdo  fon  o  boro  tern. 
Wafedo  gry  se  adovo  te  nestis  ja  sigan  te  anpali  o 
kushto  drom.  Yeckorus  'drd  o  puro  chirus,  te  kenna, 
sos  a  bori  pureni  chovihani  te  kerdas  sirlni  covvas, 
te  jivdas  sar  akonyo  adr6  o  heb  adr<j  o  ratti.  Yeck 
divvus  3^01  latchedas  yag-bar  adr<5  o  puv,  te  tilldas  cs 
apr6  te  pukkeredas  lestes  nav  pale,  "  Yag-bar."  Te 
pash  a  bitttis  yoi  latchedas  a  bitto  kusbto-saster,  te 
hadordas  lis  apr£  te  putchedas  lestis  nav,  te  lis  rak- 
kerdas  apopli,  "  Saster."  Chivdasi  dui  'du6  lakis 
puts!,  te  pendas  Yag-bar,  "  Tu  sosti  rummer  o  rye, 
Saster!"  Te  yan  kdrdavit,  awer  yeck  divvus  i  dui 
ankairede  ta  chinger,  te  Saster  dds  lestis  juva  Yag- 
bar  a  tatto-yek  adrd  o  yakk,  te  kairedas  i  chingari  la 
mukker  avri,  te  hotcher  i  puri  jiiva's  puts!.  Sa  yoi 
wusserdas  hotcherni  putsl  adrd  o  bev,  te  pendas  lis  ta 
kessur  adrom  keti  avenna  o  mush  sari  juva  kun  kek- 
ker  chingerd  chichi.  I  chingari  shan  staria,  te  dovo 
yiig  se  o  kam,  te  lis  nanei  jillo  avii  keti  kenna,  te  lis 
level  hotelier  anduro  buti  beshia  pa  sar  jinova  m{) 
keti  chingerben.  Tacho  si  ?  Nd  shomas  adoi. 

1  Chollo-tem.     Whole  country,  world. 


GYPSY  STORIES. 


321 


FLINT  AND  STEEL. 

OR   HOW    THE    SUN   WAS    CREATED. 

"Tell  me  another  story  about  the  creation  !" 
I  was  not  tli L' re  at  the  time,  but  I  heard  a  great  deal 
about  it  from  my  grandfather.  All  he  did  there  was 
to  turn  the  wheel.  People  tell  me  that  the  world  was 
made  from  the  sun,  but  gypsies,  who  do  everything  all 
contrary,  say  that  the  sun  was  made  from  the  earth. 
A  bad  horse  is  that  which  will  not  travel  either  way 
on  a  road.  Once  in  the  old  time,  as  [there  may  be] 
now,  was  a  great  old  witch,  who  made  enchantments, 
and  lived  all  alone  in  the  sky  in  the  night.  One  day 
she  found  a  flint  in  a  field,  and  picked  her  up,  and  the 
stone  told  her  that  her  name  was  Flint.  And  after  a 
bit  she  found  a  small  piece  of  steel,  and  picked  him  up, 
and  asked  his  name,  and  he  replied,  "Steel"  [iron]. 
She  put  the  twro  in  her  pocket,  and  said  to  Flint,  "  You 
must  marry  Master  Steel."  So  they  did,  but  one  day 
the  two  began  to  quarrel,  and  Steel  gave  his  wife  Flint 
a  hot  one  [a  severe  blow]  in  the  eye,  and  made  sparks 
fly,  and  set  fire  to  the  old  woman's  pocket.  So  she 
threw  the  burning  pocket  up  into  the  sky,  and  told 
it  to  stay  there  until  a  man  and  his  wife  who  had 
never  quarreled  should  come  there.  The  sparks  [from 
Flint's  eye]  are  the  stars,  and  the  fire  is  the  sun,  and 
it  has  not  gone  out  as  yet,  and  it  will  burn  on  many 
a  year,  for  all  I  know  to  the  contrary.  Is  it  true  ? 
I  was  not  there. 


21 


822  GYPSY  STORIES. 


O  MAXUSII  KOX  JIVDAS  ADft  O  CIIONE  (SIIONK). 
u  Pen  mandy  a  waver  gudlo  apa  o  clionc?" 
Avali  iniri  deari.  Adr£  o  puro  eliirus  butid 
manushia  jivvede  kushti-bakeno  Vlre  o  clionc,  sfir  chi- 
chi ta  kair  awer  t;t  rikker  ilp  o  yag  so  kdrela  o  dud. 
Awer,  amen  i  i'oki  jivdas  biiti  wat'odo  inuleno  nianush, 
kon  dusherdas  te  lias  witchabeo  atut  sar  i  waveri 
deari  manusliia,  te  yuv  kairedas  lis  sa's  ta  shikker  lende 
sar  adrom,  te  clrivdas  len  avii  o  chone.  Te  kenna  o 
sig  o  i  i'oki  slian  jdlo,  yuv  pendas  :  "  Kenna  akovi 
dinneli  juckalis  slian  jillo,  me  te  vel  jiv  maslmi  te 
kusbto,  sar  akonyus."  Awer  pash  o  bitto,  o  yilg 
ankairdae  ta  hatch  alay,  te  akovo  geero  latchdas  se 
yuv  ne  kamdas  ta  hatch  adre*  o  ratti  te  merav  sliillino, 
yuv  sosti  ja  sarja  pa  kosht.  Te  kanna  i  wa-veri  foki 
shanas  adoi,  van  ne  kerden  o  rikkaben  te  waddeiin  i 
kaslita  adre  o  divvusko  chirus,  awer  kenna  asti  lei  lis 
Bar  apre  sustis  pikkia,  siir  i  ratti,  te  sar  o  divvus. 
Sa  i  foki  akai  apre  o  chollo-tem  dikena  adovo  inannsh 
keti  divvus  kenna,  sar  pordo  o  koshter  te  bittered,  te 
miiserd  te  gumeri,  te  guberin  keti  leskro  noko  kokero, 
te  kunerin  akonyus  pash  lestis  yag.  Te  i  chori  niushia 
te  yuv  badderedas  adrom,  yul  [van]  jassed  sfir  atufc 
te  trustal  o  hev  akai,  te  adoi,  te  hatchede  up  bull  pa 
lender  kokeros  ;  te  adovi  shan  i  starya,  te  chirkia,  te 
bitti  dudapen  tu  dikessa  sarakai. 

"  Se  adovo  sar  tacho  ?  "  Akovi  se  kumi  te  me 
jinova.  Awer  kanna  sa  tu  penessa  m6  astis  dikk  o 
manush  dr(j  o  chone  savo  rikkela  kasht  aprd  lestes 
duino,  yuv  susti  keravic  ta  ehiv  adre  o  yag,  te  yuv  ne 
tevel  dukker  lestes  kokero  ta  kair  adovo  te  yuv  sus 
riiinado  or  lias  palyor,  sa  lis  se  kaimnabe.n  adosta  o 
mush  ehingerd  lestis  palya  te  nassered  lende  sar 
aiiduro.  Tacho. 


GYPSY  STORIES. 


THE  MAN  WHO  LIVED  IN  THE  MOON. 

"Tell  me  another  story  about  the  moon." 
Yes,  my  dear.  In  the  old  time  many  men  lived 
happily  in  the  moon,  with  nothing  to  do  but  keep 
up  the  fire  which  makes  the  light.  But  among  the 
folk  lived  a  very  wicked,  obstinate  man,  who  troubled 
and  hated  all  the  other  nice  [dear]  people,  and  he 
managed  it  so  as  to  drive  them  all  away,  and  put 
them  out  of  the  moon.  And  when  the  mass  of  the 
folk  were  gone,  he  said,  "  Now  those  stupid  dogs 
have  gone,  I  will  live  comfortably  and  well,  all  alone." 
But  after  a  bit  the  fire  began  to  burn  down,  and  that 
man  found  that  if  he  did  not  want  to  be  in  the  dark- 
ness [night]  and  die  of  cold  he  must  go  all  the  time 
for  wood.  And  when  the  other  people  were  there, 
they  never  did  any  carrying  or  splitting  wood  in  the 
day-time,  but  now  he  had  to  take  it  all  on  his  shoul- 
ders, all  night  and  all  day.  So  the  people  here  on 
our  earth  see  that  man  to  this  day  all  burdened  [full] 
of  wood,  and  bitter  and  grumbling  to  himself,  and 
lurking  alone  by  his  fire.  And  the  poor  people 
whom  he  had  driven  away  went  all  across  and  around 
heaven,  here  and  there,  and  set  up  in  business  for 
themselves,  and  they  are  the  stars  and  planets  and 
lesser  lights  which  you  see  all  about. 

ROMANY  TACHIPEN. 

Taken  down  accurately  from  an  old  gypsy.  Com- 
mon dialect,  or  "  half-and-half  "  language. 

"Rya,  tute  kams  mandy  to  pukker  tute  the  ta- 
?hopen  —  a\vo  ?  Se's  a  boro  or  a  kusi  covva,  man- 
Hy  '11  rakker  tacho,  s'up  mi-duvel,  apre*  mi  meriben, 


324  GYPSY  STORIES. 

bengis  adre  man'nys  see  if  mandy  pens  a  bitto  huck- 
abeii  !  An'  sa  se  adduvvel  ?  Did  mandy  ever  chore 
a  kfini  adre  mi  jiv  ?  and  what  do  the  Romany  dials 
kair  o'  the  poris,  'cause  kekker  ever  dikked  chichi 
pash  of  a  Romany  tan  ?  Kek  rya,  —  mandy  never 
chored  akani  an'  adr£  sixty  beshes  kenna  'at  mandy's 
been  apre'  the  drumyors,  an'  sar  dovo  chirus  mandy 
never  dikked  or  shuned  or  jinned  of  a  Romany  dial's 
chorin  yeck.  What  's  adduvel  tute  pens  ?  —  that 
Petulengro  kaliko  divvus  penned  tute  yuv  rikkered 
a  yagengeree  to  muller  kanis  !  Avali  rya  —  tacho 
se  aja  —  the  mush  penned  adr6  his  kokero  see  weshni 
kanis.  But  kek  kairescro  kanis.  Romanis  kekker 
chores  lendy." 

GYPSY  TRUTH. 

"  Master,  you  want  me  to  tell  you  all  the  truth, 
—  yes  ?  If  it 's  a  big  or  a  little  thing,  I  '11  tell  the 
truth,  so  help  me  God,  upon  my  life  !  The  devil  be 
in  my  soul  if  I  tell  the  least  lie  !  And  what  is  it  ? 
Did  I  ever  in  all  my  life  steal  a  chicken  ?-and  what 
do  the  gypsies  do  with  the  feathers,  because  nobody 
ever  saw  any  near  a  gypsy  tent  ?  Never,  sir,  —  I  never 
stole  a  chicken  ;  and  in  all  the  sixty  years  that  I  've 
been  on  the  roads,  in  all  that  time  I  never  sa\v  or 
heard  or  knew  of  a  gypsy's  stealing  one.  What 's 
that  you  say  ?  —  that  Petulengro  told  you  yesterday 
that  he  carried  a  gun  to  kill  chickens!  Ah  yes, 
sir,  —  that  is  true,  too.  The  man  meant  in  his  heart 
wood  chickens  [that  is,  pheasants].  But  not  domestic 
chickens.  Gypsies  never  steal  them.1  " 

1  There  i>  a  uroat  mom!  (ii  only  in  the  irvpsy  mind,  but 

in  that  of  the  prasant,  between  stealing  ami  poaching.    Hut  in  f.i 
regards  the  appropriation  of  poultry  of  any  kind,  a  young  English 
gypsy  has  neither  more  nor  less  scruple  than  other  poor  people  of  hia 


GYPSY  STORIES.  325 


CHOVIHAKIPEN. 

"  Miri  diri  bibT,  me  kamava  butidiro  tevel  chovi- 
hani.  Kamava  ta  dukker  geeris  te  ta  jiii  kunjerni 
cola.  Tu  sosti  sikker  mengi  sarakovi." 

"  Oh  miri  kamli !  vonka  tu  vissa  te  vel  chovihani, 
te  i  Gorgie  jinena  lis,  tu  lesa  buti  tugnus.  Sar  i  chavi 
tevel  shellavrT,  te  kair  a  gudli  te  \vusser  baria  kdnna 
dikena  tute,  te  shy  an  i  bori  foki  me'rena  tute.  Awer 
kushti  se  ta  jin  garini  covva,  kushti  se  vonka  chori 
churkni  Java  te  sar  i  sweti  chungen'  apre",  jinela  sa 
ta  kair  lende  wafodopen  ta  pessur  sar  lenghis  dush. 
Te  man  tevel  sikker  tute  chomany  chovihaneskes. 
Shun  !  Vonka  tu  kamesa  pen  o  dukkerin,  lesa  tu  sar 
tiro  man 1  ta  latch er  ajafera  a  manush  te  manushl  lis 
se.  Dd  lende  o  yack,  chiv  lis  drovdn  opa  lakis  yakka 
tevel  se  rakli.  Vonka  se  pash  trasherdo  yoi  tevel 
pen  buti  talla  jinaben.  Kdnna  tu  sos  k£do  lis  sdrkon 
cherus  tu  astis  risser  buti  dinneli  chaia  sa  tav  trustal 
tiro  angushtri.  Kenna-sig  tiri  yakka  dikena  pensa 
sappa,  te  vonka  tu  shan  hoini  tu  tevel  dikk  pens'  o 
ptiro  beng.  O  piishno  covva  miri  dear!  se  ta  jin  sa 
ta  plasser,  te  kamer,  te  masher  foki.  Vanka  rakli 
lela  chumeni  kek-siglo  adr<j  lakis  mui,  tu  sastis  pen 
laki  adovo  sikerela  buti  bak.  Kanna  lela  lulli  te 
safrani  balia,  pen  laki  adovo  se  tatcho  sigaben  yoi 
sasti  lei  buti  sonakei.  Kdnna  lakis  koria  wena  kete- 
nes,  dovo  sikerela  yoi  tevel  ketni  buti  barveli  rya. 
Pen  sarja  vonka  tu  dikesa  o  latch  apre"  lakis  cham, 
talla  lakis  kor,  te  vaniso,  adovos  sigaben  yoi  tevet  a 
bori  rani.  Ma  kessur  tu  ki  lo  se,  'prd  o  truppo  te 
pre  o  bull,  pen  laki  sarja  o  latch  adoi  se  sigaben  o 

1  Man  tana,  Hindostani :  to  set  the  heart  upon.  Manner,  Eng. 
Gyp.  :  t:>  encourage  ;  also,  to  forbid. 


326  GYPSY  STORIES. 

boridirines.  Hammer  laki  apre.  Te  dikcssa  tu  yoi 
lela  bitti  wastia  te  bitti  piria,  pen  laki  trustal  a  rye 
ko  so  ilivius  pa  rinkeni  plria,  te  sa  o  rinkeno  wast 
nnela  kumi  baclit  te  rinkno  mui.  Hamnierin  te 
kamerin  te  inasherin  te  shorin  shan  o  pash  o  duk- 
kerin.  Se  kck  rakli  te  kekno  mush  adrd  mi  duvel's 
eh  olio  tern  savo  ne  se  bo'ino  te  hunkari  pa  chomani, 
te  si  tu  astis  latcher  sa  se  tu  susti  lei  lender  wongur. 
Stastis,  latcher  sar  o  rakkerben  aprd  foki. 

"  Awer  miri  bibi,  adovos  sar  hokkanipen.  Me  ka- 
mavabuti  ta  sikker  tachni  chovihanipen.  Pen  mandy 
si  nanei  taehi  chovahanis,  te  sa  yol  dikena." 

"  O  tacbi  chovihani  miri  chavi,  lela  yakka  pensa 
chiriclo,  o  kunsiis  se  rikkeredo  aprd  pensa  bongo  chiv. 
Butt  Yahuili,  te  nebollongeri  lena  jafri  yakka.  Te 
cho'hani  balia  shan  rikkerdi  pa  lakis  ankairoben  te 
surri,  te  adenna  risserdi.  Vonka  Gorgikani  cho'hani 
lena  shelni  yakka,  adulli  shan  i  trasheni. 

"  Me  penava  tuki  chomani  sirines.  Vonka  tu  lat- 
chesa  o  pori  te  o  sasterni  krafni,  te  anpali  tu  latchesa 
cuttor  fon  pnpiros,  tu  sastis  chin  apre  lis  sar  o  pori 
savo  tu  kamcsa,  te  ha  lis  te  tu  lesa  lis.  Awer  tu 
sasti  chin  sar  tiro  noko  ratt.  Si  tu  latchessa  pash  o 
lon-doeyav  o  boro  inatcheskro-bar,  te  o  puro  curro, 
chiv  lis  keti  kan,  sliunesa  godli.  Tevel  tastis  kana 
pordo  clione  peshela,  bcsli  sar  nangi  adrd  lakis  dud 
hefta  ratti,  te  shundes  adrd  lis,  sarrati  o  gudli  te  vel 
tachodiro,  te  anpfile  tu  shunesa  i  feris  rakerena  sig 
adosta.  Vonka  tu  keresa  hev  sar  o  bar  adrd  o  mul- 
leskri-tan,  jasa  tu  adoi  yeck  ratti  pash  a  waver  te 
kciina-sig  tu  sliuiie-a  sa  i  intllia  rakerena.  Sorkon- 
chirus  pencna  ki  lovo  se  ga.rri<lo.  Sastis  Id  o  bar  to 
lis  apre  o  mulleskri-tan,  talla  hev  si  kdilo. 

"  Me  penava  tuki  apopli  chomani  clio'haunes.     Le* 


GYPSY  STORIES.  327 

vini  o  sar  covva  te  suvcrenti  apre*  o  pani,  pa  lenia, 
pa  doeyav.  Te  asar  i  pam>skri  mullos  kon  jivenn, 
adre  o  pani  rakkerena  keti  puveskri  chovilianis.  Si 
manush  dikela  pano  panna,  te  part  an  te  diklo  apr6  o 
pani  te  lela  lis,  adovo  sikela  astis  lei  a  pirt-ni,  o  yuzliior 
te  o  kushtidir  o  partan  se,  o  ktishtidir  i  rakli.  Si 
latchesa  ran  apre  o  pani,  dovo  sikela  sastis  kui-  tiro 
wafedo  geero.  Cliokka  or  curro  apre  o  pani  penela 
tu  tevel  sig  atch  kamelo  sar  tiri  pireni,  te  plreno. 
Te  safrani  ruzhia  pa  pani  dukerena  sonaki,  te  pauni, 
rupp,  te  loli,  kammaben." 

"Kana  latchesa  klisin,  dovo  se  buti  bacht.  Vonka 
haderesa  lis  aprd,  pen  o  manusbeskro  te  rafcleskri  nav, 
te  yan  wena  kamlo  o  tute.  Butidir  bacht  si  lullo  dori 
te  tav.  Rikker  lis,  sikela  kusliti  kamaben.  Man 
nasher  lis  avrT  tiro  zi  miri  chavi." 

"  Nanei,  bib!,  kekker." 

WITCHCRAFT.1 

"  My  dear  aunt,  I  wish  very  much  to  be  a  witch. 
I  would  like  to  enchant  people  and  to  know  secret 
things.  You  can  teach  me  all  that." 

"  Oh,  my  darling!  if  you  come  to  be  a  witch,  and 
the  Gentiles  know  it,  you  will  have  much  trouble. 
All  the  children  will  cry  aloud,  and  make  a  noise  and 
throw  stones  at  you  when  they  see  you,  and  perhaps 
the  grown-up  people  will  kill  you.  But  it  is  nice  to 
know  secret  things ;  pleasant  for  a  poor  old  humble 
woman  whom  all  the  world  spits  upon  to  know  how 
to  do  them  evil  and  pay  them  for  their  cruelty.  And 
7  will  teach  you  something  of  witchcraft.  Listen! 

Clwvihan,  m.,  chovihctnl,  fern.,  often  cho'lan  or  cho'anl,  a  witch 
Probably  from  the  Hindu  'foanee,  a  witch,  wbicn  has  nearly  the  sain* 
pronunciation  as  the  English  gypsy  word. 


328  GYPSY  STORIES. 

When  thoti  wilt  tell  a  fortune,  put  all  thy  heart  into 
finding  out  what  kind  of  a  man  or  woman  thou  hast 
to  deal  with.  Look  [keenly],  fix  thy  glance  sharply, 
especially  if  it  be  a  girl.  When  she  is  half-frightened, 
she  will  tell  you  much  without  knowing  it.  When 
thou  shalt  have  often  done  this  thou  wilt  be  able  to 
twist  many  a  silly  girl  like  twine  around  thy  fingers. 
Soon  thy  eyes  will  look  like  a  snake's,  and  when 
thou  art  angry  thou  wilt  look  like  the  old  devil. 
Half  the  business,  my  dear,  is  to  know  how  to  please 
and  flatter  and  allure  people.  When  a  girl  has  any- 
thing unusual  in  her  face,  you  must  tell  her  that  it 
signifies  extraordinary  luck.  If  she  have  red  or  yel- 
low hair,  tell  her  that  is  a  true  sign  that  she  will 
have  much  gold.  When  her  eyebrows  meet,  that 
shows  she  will  be  united  to  many  rich  gentlemen. 
Tell  her  always,  when  you  see  a  mole  on  her  eheek 
or  her  forehead  or  anything,  that  is  a  sign  she  will 
become  a  great  lady.  Never  mind  where  it  is,  on  her 
body,  — tell  her  always  that  a  mole  or  fleck  is  a  sign 
of  greatness.  Praise  Jiiir  up.  And  if  you  see  that  she 
has  small  hands  or  feet,  tell  her  about  a  gentleman 
who  is  wild  about  pretty  feet,  and  how  a,  preltv  hand 
brings  more  luck  than  a  pretty  face.  Praising  and 
petting  and  alluring  and  crying-up  are  half  of  fort n no- 
telling.  There  is  no  girl  and  no  man  in  all  the  Lord's 
earth  who  is  not  proud  and  vain  about  something, 
and  if  you  can  find  it  out  you  can  get  their  money. 
If  you  can,  pick  up  all  the  gossip  about  people." 

"  But,  my  aunt,  that  is  all  humbug.  I  wish  much 
to  learn  real  witchc-rait.  Tell  me  if  there  are  no  rea. 
witc.hi's,  and  how  they  look." 

"A  real  witch,  my  child,  has  eyes  like  a  bird,  the 
corner  turned  up  like  the  point  of  a  curved  pointed 


GYPSY  STORIES. 


329 


knife.  Many  Jews  and  im-Christians  have  such  eyes. 
And  witches'  hairs  are  drawn  out  from  the  beginning 
[roots]  and  straight,  and  then  curled  [at  the  ends] . 
When  Gentile  witches  have  green  eyes  they  are  the 
most  [to  be]  dreaded. 

"  I  will  tell  you  something  magical.  When  you  find 
a  pen  or^n  iron  nail,  and  then  a  piece  of  paper,  you 
should  write  on  it  with  the  pen  all  thou  wishest,  and 
eat  it,  and  thou  wilt  get  thy  wish.  But  thou  must 
write  all  in  thy  own  blood.  If  thou  findest  by  the 
sea  a  great  shell  or  an  old  pitcher  [cup,  etc.],  put  it  to 
your  ear:  you  will  hear  a  noise.  If  you  can,  when 
the  full  moon  shines  sit  quite  naked  in  her  light  and 
listen  to  it ;  every  night  the  noise  will  become  more 
distinct,  and  then  thou  wilt  hear  the  fairies  talking 
plainty  enough.  When  you  make  a  hole  with  a  stone 
in  a  tomb  go  there  night  after  night,  and  erelong 
thou  wilt  hear  what  the  dead  are  saying.  Often  they 
tell  where  money  is  buried.  You  must  take  a  stone 
and  turn  it  around  in  the  tomb  till  a  hole  is  there. 

"  I  will  tell  you  something  more  witchly.  Observe 
[take  care]  of  everything  that  swims  on  water,  on 
rivers  or  the  sea.  For  so  the  water-spirits  who  live 
in  the  water  speak  to  the  earth's  witches.  If  a  man 
sees  cloth  on  the  water  and  gets  it,  that  shows  he 
will  get  a  sweetheart;  the  cleaner  and  nicer  the 
cloth,  the  better  the  maid.  If  you  find  a  staff  [stick 
or  rod]  on  the  water,  that  shows  you  will  beat  your 
enemy.  A  shoe  or  cup  floating  on  the  water  means 
that  you  will  soon  be  loved  by  your  sweetheart.  And 
yellow  flowers  [floating]  on  the  water  foretell  gold, 
and  white,  silver,  and  red,  love. 

"  When  you  find  a  key,  that  is  much  luck.  When 
you  pick  [lift  it]  up,  utter  a  male  or  female  name, 


330  GYPSY  STORIES. 

and  the  person  will  become  your  own.  Very  lucky 
is  a  red  string  or  ribbon.  Keep  it.  It  foretells  happy 
love.  Do  not  let  this  run  away  from  tlw  soul,  my 
child." 

"No,  aunt,  never.'* 


THE  ORIGIN  OF  THE   GYPSIES. 


This  chapter  contains  in  abridged  form  the  substance  of  papers  on  the 
origin  of  the  gypsies  and  their  language,  read  before  the  London  Philolog- 
ical Society ;  also  of  another  paper  read  before  the  Oriental  Congress  at 
Florence  in  1878 ;  and  a  resume  of  these  published  in  the  London  Satur- 
day Review. 

IT  has  been  repeated  until  the  remark  has  become 
accepted  as  a  sort  of  truism,  that  the  gypsies  are  a 
mysterious  race,  and  that  nothing  is  known  of  their 
origin.  And  a  few  years  ago  this  was  true ;  but 
within  those  years  so  much  has  been  discovered  that 
at  present  there  is  really  no  more  mystery  attached 
to  the  beginning  of  these  nomads  than  is  peculiar 
to  many  other  peoples.  What  these  discoveries  or 
grounds  of  belief  are  I  shall  proceed  to  give  briefly, 
my  limits  not  permitting  the  detailed  citation  of  au- 
thorities. First,  then,  there  appears  to  be  every  reason 
for  believing  with  Captain  Richard  Burton  that  the 
Jats  of  Northwestern  India  furnished  so  large  a  pro- 
portion of  the  emigrants  or  exiles  who,  from  the  tenth 
century,  went  out  of  India  westward,  that  there  is  very 
little  risk  in  assuming  it  as  an  hypothesis,  at  least, 
that  they  formed  the  Hauptstamm  of  the  gypsies  of 
Europe.  What  other  elements  entered  into  these, 
with  whom  we  are  all  familiar,  will  be  considered 
presently.  These  gypsies  came  from  India,  where 
saste  is  established  and  callings  are  hereditary  even 


832  THE  ORIGIN  OF  THE   GYPSIES. 

among  ont-castes.  It  is  not  assuming  too  much  to 
suppose  that,  as  they  evinced  a  marked  aptitude  for 
certain  pursuits  and  an  inveterate  attachment  to  Cer- 
tain habits,  their  ancestors  had  in  these  respects  re- 
sembled them  for  ages.  These  pursuits  and  habits 
were  that 

They  were  tinkers,  smiths,  and  farriers. 

They  dealt  in  horses,  and  were  naturally  familiar 
with  them. 

They  were  without  religion. 

They  were  unscrupulous  thieves. 

Their  women  were  fortune-tellers,  especially  by 
chiromancy. 

They  ate  without  scruple  animals  which  had  died 
a  -natural  death,  being  especially  fond  of  the  pig, 
which,  when  it  has  thus  been  "butchered  by  God," 
is  still  regarded  even  by  prosperous  gypsies  in  Eng- 
land as  a  delicacy. 

They  flayed  animals,  carried  corpses,  and  showed 
such  aptness  for  these  and  similar  detested  callings 
that  in  several  European  countries  they  long  monop- 
olized them. 

They  made  and  sold  mats,  baskets,  and  small  arti- 
cles of  wood. 

They  have  shown  great  skill  as  dancers,  musicians, 
singers,  acrobats ;  and  it  is  a  rule  almost  without  ex- 
ception that  there  is  hardly  a  traveling  company  of 
such  performers  or  a  theatre,  in  Europe  or  America, 
in  which  there  is  not  at  least  one  person  with  some 
Romany  blood. 

Their  hair  n-mains  black  to  advanced  age,  and  they 
retain  it  longer  than  do  Europeans  or  ordinary  Ori- 
entals. 

They  speak  an  Aryan  tongue,  which  agrees  in  the 


THE  ORIGIN  OF  THE   GYPSIES.  333 

main  with  that  of  the  Jats,  but  which  contains  words 
gathered  from  other  Indian  sources.  This  is  a  con- 
sideration of  the  utmost  importance,  as  by  it  alone 
can  we  determine  what  was  the  agglomeration  of 
tribes  in  India  which  formed  the  Western  gypsy. 

Admitting  these  as  the  peculiar  pursuits  of  the 
race,  the  next  step  should  be  to  consider  what  are 
the  principal  nomadic  tribes  of  gypsies  in  India  and 
Persia,  and  how  far  their  occupations  agree  with  those 
of  the  Romany  of  Europe.  That  the  Jats  probably 
supplied  the  main  stock  has  been  admitted.  This 
was  a  bold  race  of  Northwestern  India,  which  at  one 
time  had  such  power  as  to  obtain  important  victories 
over  the  caliphs.  They  were  broken  and  dispersed 
in  the  eleventh  century  by  Mahmoud,  many  thou- 
sands of  them  wandering  to  the  West.  They  were 
without  religion,  "  of  the  horse,  horsey,"  and  notori- 
ous thieves.  In  this  they  agree  with  the  European 
gypsy.  But  they  are  not  habitual  eaters  of  mullo 
bdlor,  or  "  dead  pork ; "  they  do  not  devour  every- 
thing like  dogs.  We  cannot  ascertain  that  the  Jat 
is  specially  a  musician,  a  dancer,  a  mat  and  basket 
maker,  a  rope-dancer,  a  bear-leader,  or  a  peddler. 
We  do  not  know  whether  they  are  peculiar  in  India 
among  the  Indians  for  keeping  their  hair  unchanged 
to  old  age,  as  do  pure-blood  English  gypsies.  All  of 
these  things  are,  however,  markedly  characteristic  of 
certain  different  kinds  of  wanderers,  or  gypsies,  in 
India.  From  this  we  conclude,  hypothetically,  that 
the  Jat  warriors  were  supplemented  by  other  tribes, 
—  chief  among  these  may  have  been  the  Dom,  — 
and  that  the  Jat  element  has  at  present  disappeared, 
and  been  supplanted  by  the  lower  type. 

The  Doms  are  a  race  of  gypsies  found  from  Cen* 


334  THE   ORIGIN  OF  THE  GYPSIES. 

trnl  India  to  tin?  far  northern  frontier,  where  a  por- 
tion of  their  early  ancestry  appears  as  the  Dninarr, 
and  are  supposed  to  he  pre-Arvan.  In  "The  People 
of  India,''  edited  by  J.  Forbes  Watson  and  J.  W. 
Kaye  (India  Museum,  1868),  \ve  are  told  that  the 
appearance  and  modes  of  life  of  the  Doms  indicate 
a  marked  difference  from  those  of  the  people  who  sur- 
round them  (in  Behar).  The  Hindus  admit  their 
claim  to  antiquity.  Their  designation  in  the  Shas- 
tras  is  Sopnckh,  meaning  dog-eater.  They  are  wan- 
derers;  they  make  baskets  and  mats,  and  are  invet- 
erate drinkers  of  spirits,  spending  all  their  earnings 
on  it.  They  have  almost  a  monopoly  as  to  burning 
corpses  and  handling  all  dead  bodies.  They  eat  all 
animals  which  have  died  a  natural  death,  and  are  par- 
ticularly fond  of  pork  of  this  description.  "  Notwith- 
standing profligate  habits,  many  of  them  attain  the 
•  >f  eighty  or  ninety;  and  it  is  not  till  sixty  or 
sixty-five  that  their  hair  begins  to  get  white."  The 
Doniarr  are  a  mountain  race,  nomads,  shepherds,  and 
robbers.  Travelers  speak  of  them  as  "gypsies."  A 
specimen  which  we  have  of  their  language  would, 
with  the  exception  of  one  word,  which  is  probably 
an  error  of  the  transcriber,  be  intelligible  io  any  Eng- 
lish gypsy,  and  be  called  pure  Romany.  Finally,  the 
ordinary  Dom  calls  himself  a  Dom,  his  wife  a  Domni, 
and  the  being  a  Dom,  or  the  collective  gypsydoin, 
Doinnipana.  D  in  Hindustani  is  found  as  r  in  Eng 
lisli  gypsy  speech,  —  e.  #.,  doi,  a  wooden  spoon,  is 
known  in  Europe  as  roi.  Now  in  common  Romany 
we  have,  even  in  London, — 

Rom A  gypsy. 

Romni     ....     A  gypsy  \vifo. 

Romnipen    .     .     .     Gypsydoin. 


THE  ORIGIN  OF  THE   GYPSIES.  335 

Of  this,  word  rom  I  shall  have  more  to  say.  It  may 
be  observed  that  there  sire  in  th«-  Indian  Dom  certain 
distinctly-marked  and  degrading  features,  character- 
istic of  the  European  gypsy,  which  are  out  of  keep- 
ing with  the  habits  of  warriors,  and  of  a  daring  Aryan 
race  which  withstood  the  caliphs.  Grubbing  in  filth 
as  if  by  instinct,  handling  corpses,  making  baskets, 
eating  carrion,  being  given  to  drunkenness,  does  not 
agree  with  anything  we  can  learn  of  the  Jats.  Yet 
the  European  gypsies  are  all  this,  and  at  the  same 
time  "  horsey  "  like  the  Jats.  Is  it  not  extremely 
probable  that  during  the  "  out- wandering  "  the  Dora 
communicated  his  name  and  habits  to  his  fellow-emi- 
grants? 

The  marked  musical  talent  characteristic  of  the 
Slavonian  and  other  European  gypsies  appears  to  link 
them  with  the  Lnri  of  Persia.  These  are  distinctly 
gypsies  ;  that  is  to  say,  they  are  wanderers,  thieves, 
fortune  tellers,  and  minstrels.  The  Shah-Nameh  of 
Firdusi  tells  us  that  about  the  year  420  A.  D.  Shankal, 
the  Maharajah  of  India,  sent  to  Behram  Gour,  a  ruler 
of  the  Sassanian  dynasty  in  Persia,  ten  thousand  min- 
strels, male  and  female,  called  Luri.  Though  lands 
were  allotted  to  them,  with  corn  and  cattle,  they  be- 
came from  the  beginning  irreclaimable  vagabonds. 
Of  their  descendants,  as  they  now  exist,  Sir  Henry 
Pottinger  says :  — 

"  They  bear  a  marked  affinity  to  the  gypsies  of 
Europe.1  They  speak  a  dialect  peculiar  to  them- 
selves, have  a  king  to  each  troupe,  and  are  notorious 
for  kidnapping  and  pilfering.  Their  principal  pas- 
times are  drinking,  dancing,  and  music.  .  .  .  They 
are  invariably  attended  by  half  a  dozen  of  bears  and 

1   Travels  in  Beloochistan  afd  Sdnde,  p.  153. 


336  THE  ORIGIN  OF  THE  GYPSIES. 

monkeys  that  are  broke  in  to  perform  all  manner  of 
grotesque  tricks.  In  each  company  there  are  always 
two  or  three  members  who  profess  .  .  .  modes  of 
divining,  which  procure  them  a  ready  admission  into 
every  society." 

This  account,  especially  with  the  mention  of  trained 
bears  and  monkeys,  identifies  them  with  the  Ricinari, 
or  bear-leading  gypsies  of  Syria  (also  called  Nuri), 
Turkey,  and  Roumania.  A  party  of  these  lately  came 
to  England.  We  have  seen  these  Syrian  Ricinari  in 
Egypt.  They  are  unquestionably  gypsies,  and  it  is 
probable  that  many  of  them  accompanied  the  early 
migration  of  Jats  and  Doms. 

The  Nats  or  Nuts  are  Indian  wanderers,  who,  as  Dr. 
J.  Forbes  Watson  declares,  in  "  The  People  of  India," 
"  correspond  to  the  European  gypsy  tribes,"  and  were 
in  their  origin  probably  identical  with  the  Luri.  They 
are  musicians,  dancers,  conjurers,  acrobats,  fortune- 
tellers, blacksmiths,  robbers,  and  dwellers  in  tents. 
They  eat  everything,  except  garlic.  There  are  also 
in  India  the  Banjari,  who  are  spoken  of  by  travelers 
as  "gypsies."  They  are  traveling  merchants  or  ped- 
dlers. Among  all  these  wanderers  there  is  a  current 
slang  of  the  roads,  as  in  England.  This  slang  expends 
even  into  Persia.  Each  tribe  lias  its  own,  but  the 
name  for  the  generally  spoken  lhi<iu<(  ft-nnaa  is  Rom. 

It  has  never  been  pointed  out,  however,  by  any 
writer,  that  there  is  in  Northern  and  Central  India  a 
distinct  tribe,  which  is  regarded,  even  by  the  Nats 
and  Doms  and  Jats  themselves,  as  peculiarly  and  dis- 
tinctly gypsy.  There  are,  however,  such  wanderers, 
and  the  manner  in  which  I  became  aware  of  their 
existence  was,  to  say  the  least,  remarkable.  I  was 
one  day  along  the  Marylebone  Road  when  I 


THE  ORIGIN  OF  THE   GYPSIES.  337 

met  a  very  dark  man,  poorly  clad,  whom  I  took  for  a 
gypsy ;  and  no  wonder,  as  his  eyes  had  the  very  ex- 
pression of  the  purest  blood  of  the  oldest  families. 
To  him  I  said,  — 

"  Rakessa  tu  Romanes  ?  "  (Can  you  talk  gypsy  ?) 

"I  know  what  you  mean,"  he  answered  in  English. 
"You  ask  me  if  I  can  talk  gypsy.  I  know  what 
those  people  are.  But  I  'm  a  Mahometan  Hindu 
from  Calcutta.  I  get  my  living  by  making  curry 
powder.  Here  is  my  card."  Saying  this  he  handed 
me  a  piece  of  paper,  with  his  name  written  on  it : 
John  Nano. 

"  When  I  say  to  you, '  Rakessa  tu  Romanes  ? '  what 
does  it  mean  ?" 

"  It  means,  '  Can  you  talk  Rom  ? '  But  rakessa  is 
not  a  Hindu  word.  It 's  Panjabl." 

I  met  John  Nano  several  times  afterwards  and 
visited  him  in  his  lodgings,  and  had  him  carefully 
examined  and  cross-questioned  and  pumped  by  Pro- 
fessor Palmer  of  Cambridge,  who  is  proficient  in  East- 
ern tongues.  He  conversed  with  John  in  Hindustani, 
and  the  result  of  our  examination  was  that  John  de- 
clared he  had"  in  his  youth  lived  a  very  loose  life, 
and  belonged  to  a  tribe  of  wanderers  who  were  to 
all  the  other  wanderers  on  the  roads  in  India  what 
regular  gypsies  are  to  the  English  Gorgio  hawkers 
and  tramps.  These  people  were,  he  declared,  "  the 
real  gypsies  of  India,  and  just  like  the  gypsies  here. 
People  in  India  called  them  Trablus,  which  means 
Syrians,  but  they  were  full-blood  Hindus,  and  not 
Syrians."  And  here  I  may  observe  that  this  word 
Trablus  which  is  thus  applied  to  Syria,  is  derived 
from  Tripoli.  John  was  very  sure  that  his  gypsies 
were  Indian.  They  had  a  peculiar  language,  consist- 


338  THE   ORIGIN  OF  THE   GYPSIES. 

ing  of  words  which  were  not  generally  intelligible. 
"Could  he  remember  any  of  these  words?"  Yes. 
One  of  them  was  manro^  which  meant  bread.  Now 
manro  is  all  over  Europe  the  gypsy  word  for  bread. 
John  Nano,  who  spoke  several  tongues,  said  that 
he  did  not  know  it  in  any  Indian  dialect  except  in 
that  of  his  gypsies.  These  gypsies  called  themselves 
and  their  language  Rom.  Rom  meant  in  India  a 
real  gypsy.  And  Rom  was  the  general  slang  of  the 
road,  and  it  came  from  the  Rorns  or  Trablus.  Once 
he  had  written  all  his  autobiography  in  a  book.  This 
is  generally  done  by  intelligent  Mahometans.  This 
manuscript  had  unfortunately  been  burned  by  his 
English  wife,  who  told  us  that  she  hud  done  so  "  be- 
cause she  was  tired  of  seeing  a  book  lying  about 
which  she  could  not  read." 

Reader,  think  of  losing  such  a  life  I  The  autobi- 
ography of  an  Indian  gypsy,  —  an  abyss  of  adventure 
and  darksome  mysteries,  illuminated,  it  may  be,  with 
vivid  flashes  of  Dacoitee,  while  in  the  distance  rum- 
bled the  thunder  of  Thuggism  !  Lost,  lost,  irrepara- 
bly lost  forever!  And  in  this  book  John  had  embod- 
ied a  vocabulary  of  the  real  Indian  Romany  dialect. 
Nothing  was  wanting  to  complete  our  woe.  John 
thought  at  first  that  he  had  lent  it  to  a  friend  who 
had  never  returned  it.  But  his  wife  remembered 
burning  it.  Of  one  thing  John  was  positive:  Rom 
was  as  distinctively  gypsy  talk  in  India  as  in  Eng- 
land, and  the  Trablus  are  the  true  Romanys  of  India. 

What  here  suggests  itself  is,  how  these  Indian  gyp- 
sies came  to  be  called  Syrian.  The  gypsies  which 
roam  over  Syria  arc  evidently  of  Indian  origin  ;  their 
language  and  physiognomy  both  declare  it  plainly. 
I  offer  as  an  hypothesis  that  bands  of  gypsies  whc 


THE  ORIGIN  OF  THE  GYPSIES.  339 

have  roamed  from  India  to  Syria  have,  after  returning, 
been  called  Trablus,  or  Syrians,  just  as  I  have  known 
Germans,  after  returning  from  the  father-land  to 
America,  to  be  called  Americans.  One  thing,  how- 
ever, is  at  least  certain.  The  Rom  are  the  very 
gypsies  of  gypsies  in  India.  They  are  thieves,  fortune- 
tellers, and  vagrants.  But  whether  they  have  or  had 
any  connection  with  the  migration  to  the  West  we 
cannot  establish.  Their  language  and  their  name 
would  seem  to  indicate  it ;  but  then  it  must  be  borne 
in  mind  that  the  word  rom,  like  dom,  is  one  of  wide  dis- 
semination, dum  being  a  Syrian  gypsy  word  for  the 
race.  And  the  very  great  majority  of  even  English 
gypsy  words  are  Hindi,  with  an  admixture  of  Persian, 
and  do  not  belong  to  a  slang  of  any  kind.  As  in  In- 
dia, churi  is  a  knife,  nak  the  nose,  balia  hairs,  and  so 
on,  with  others  which  would  be  among  the  first  to  be 
furnished  with  slang  equivalents.  And  yet  these 
very  gypsies  are  Rom,  and  the  wife  is  a  Romni,  and 
they  use  words  which  are  not  Hindu  in  common  with 
European  gypsies.  It  is  therefore  not  improbable 
that  in  these  Trablus,  so  called  through  popular 
ignorance,  as  they  are  called  Tartars  in  Egypt  and 
Germany,  we  have  a  portion  at  least  of  the  real  stock. 
It  is  to  be  desired  that  some  resident  in  India  would 
investigate  the  Trablus.  It  will  probably  be  found 
that  they  are  Hindus  who  have  roamed  from  India 
to  Syria  and  back  again,  here  and  there,  until  they 
are  regarded  as  foreigners  in  both  countries. 

Next  to  the  word  rom  itself,  the  most  interesting 
in  Romany  is  zingan,  or  tchenkan,  which  is  used  in 
twenty  or  thirty  different  forms  by  the  people  of 
every  country,  except  England,  to  indicate  the  gypsy. 
An  incredible  amount  of  far-fetched  erudition  has 


340  THE  ORIGIN  OF  THE   GYPSU 

been  wasted  in  pursuing  this  philological  ignis  fatuus. 
That  there  are  leather-working  and  saddle-working 
gypsies  in  Persia  who  call  themselves  Zingan  is  a  fair 
basis  for  an  origin  of  the  word ;  but  then  there  are 
Tchangar  gypsies  of  Jat  affinity  in  the  Punjab.  Won- 
derful it  is  that  in  this  war  of  words  no  philologist 
has  paid  any  attention  to  what  the  gypsies  themselves 
say  about  it.  What  they  do  say  is  sufficiently  inter- 
esting, as  it  is  told  in  the  form  of  a  legend  which  is 
intrinsically  curious  and  probably  ancient.  It  is  given 
as  follows  in  "  The  People  of  Turkey,"  by  a  Con- 
sul's Daughter  and  Wife,  edited  by  Mr.  Stanley  Lane 
Poole,  London,  1878  :  "  Although  the  gypsies  are  not 
persecuted  in  Turkey,  the  antipathy  and  disdain  felt 
for  them  evinces  itself  in  many  ways,  and  appears  to 
be  founded  upon  a  strange  legend  current  in  the  coun- 
try. This  legend  says  that  when  the  gypsy  nation 
were  driven  out  of  their  country  (India),  and  arrived 
at  Mekran,  they  constructed  a  wonderful  machine  to 
which  a  wheel  was  attached."  From  the  context  of 
this  imperfectly  told  story,  it  would  appear  as  if  the 
gypsies  could  not  travel  farther  until  this  wheel 
should  revolve :  — • 

"Nobody  appeared  to  be  able  to  turn  it,  till  in  the 
midst  of  their  vain  efforts  some  evil  spirit  presented 
himself  under  the  disguise  of  a  sago,  and  informed 
the  chief,  whose  name  was  Chen,  that  the  wheel 
would  bo  made  to  turn  only  when  he  had  married  his 
sister  Guin.  The  chief  accepted  the  advice,  tho  wheel 
turned  round,  and  the  name  of  the  tribe  after  this 
incident  became  that  of  the  combined  names  of  the 
brother  and  sister,  Chonguin,  the  appellation  of  all 
tho  ^yp.-ies  <>f  Turkey  at  the  present  day/' 

The  legend  goes  on  to  state  that  in  consequence  ol 


THE  ORIGIN  OF  THE  GYPSIES.  341 

fchis  unnatural  marriage  the  gypsies  were  cursed  and 
condemned  by  a  Mahometan  saint  to  wander  forever 
on  the  face  of  the  earth.  The  real  meaning  of  the 
myth  —  for  myth  it  is  —  is  very  apparent.  Chen  is  a 
Romany  word,  generally  pronounced  chone,  meaning 
the  moon ; l  while  gwin  is  almost  universally  given  as 
gan  or  lean.  That  is  to  say,  Chen-gan  or  -kan,  or 
Zin-kan,  is  much  commoner  than  Chen-guin.  Now 
kan  is  a  common  gypsy  word  for  the  sun.  George 
Borrow  gives  it  as  such,  and  I  myself  have  heard 
Romanys  call  the  sun  Jean,  though  kam  is  commoner, 
and  is  usually  assumed  to  be  right.  Chen-kan  means, 
therefore,  moon-sun.  And  it  may  be  remarked  in 
this  connection,  that  the  neighboring  Roumanian  gyp- 
sies, who  are  nearly  allied  to  the  Turkish,  have  a 
wild  legend  stating  that  the  sun  was  a  youth  who, 
having  fallen  in  love  with  his  own  sister,  was  con- 
demned as  the  sun  to  wander  forever  in  pursuit  of 
her,  after  she  was  turned  into  the  moon.  A  similar 
legend  exists  in  Greenland 2  and  in  the  island  of 
Borneo,  and  it  was  known  to  the  old  Irish.  It  is  in 
fact  a  spontaneous  myth,  or  one  of  the  kind  which 
grow  up  from  causes  common  to  all  races.  It  would 
be  natural,  to  any  imaginative  savage,  to  regard  the 
sun  and  moon  as  brother  and  sister.  The  next  step 
would  be  to  think  of  the  one  as  regularly  pursuing 
the  other  over  the  heavens,  and  to  this  chase  an  erotic 
gause  would  naturally  be  assigned.  And  as  the  pur- 
Euit  is  interminable,  the  pursuer  never  attaining  his 
aim,  it  would  be  in  time  regarded  as  a  penance. 
Hence  it  comes  that  in  the  most  distant  and  differ- 

1  English  gypsies  also  call  the  moon  shul  and  shone. 

2  Tales  and  Traditions  of  the  Eskimo,  by  Dr.  Henry  Kink.  London, 
1875,  p.  236. 


842  THE  ORIGIN  OF  THE   GYPSIES. 

ent  lands  we  have  the  same  old  story  of  the  brother 
and  the  sister,  just  as  the  Wild  Hunter  pursues  his 
bride. 

It  was  very  natural  that  the  gypsies,  observing  that 
the  sun  and  moon  were  always  apparently  wandering, 
should  have  identified  their  own  nomadic  life  with 
that  of  these  luminaries.  That  they  have  a  tendency 
to  assimilate  the  idea  of  a  wanderer  and  pilgrim  to 
that  of  the  Romany,  or  to  Romanipen,  is  shown  by 
the  assertion  once  made  to  me  by  an  English  gypsy 
that  his  people  regarded  Christ  as  one  of  themselves, 
because  he  was  always  poor,  and  went  wandering 
about  on  a  donkey,  and  was  persecuted  by  the  Gor- 
gios.  It  may  be  very  rationally  objected  by  those  to 
whom  the  term  "  solar  myth  "  is  as  a  red  rag,  that 
the  story,  to  prove  anything,  must  first  be  proved 
itself.  Tliis  will  probably  not  be  far  to  seek.  Ev- 
erything about  it  indicates  an  Indian  origin,  and  if  it 
can  be  found  among  any  of  the  wanderers  in  India, 
it  may  well  be  accepted  as  the  possible  origin  of  the 
greatly  disputed  word  zingan.  It  is  quite  as  plausible 
as  Dr.  Miklosich's  very  far-fetched  derivation  from 
the  Acingani,  —  'Aro-tyavoi,  —  an  unclean,  heretical 
Christian  sect,  who  dwelt  in  Phrygia  and  Lycaonia 
from  the  seventh  till  the  eleventh  century.  The 
mention  of  Mekran  indicates  clearly  that  the  moon 
Btory  came  from  India  before  the  Romany  could  have 
obtained  any  Greek  name.  And  if  gypsies  call  them- 
selves or  are  called  Jen-gan,  or  Chenkan,  or  Zingan, 
in  the  East,  especially  if  they  were  so  called  by 
IVrsian  poets,  it  is  extremely  unlikely  that  they  ever 
received  such  a  name  from  the,  (iorgios  of  Europe.  It 
is  really  extraordinary  that  all  the  philologists  who 
have  toiled  to  derive  the  word  zingan  from  a  Greek 


THE   ORIGIN  OF  THE   GYPSIES.  3  ±3 

or  Western  source  have  never  reflected  that  if  it  was 
applied  to  the  race  at  an  early  time  in  India  or  Per- 
sia all  their  speculations  must  fall  to  the  ground. 

One  last  word  of  John  Nano,  who  was  so  called 
from  two  similar  Indian  words,  meaning  "the  pet  of 
his  grandfather."  I  have  in  my  possession  a  strange 
Hindu  knife,  with  an  enormously  broad  blade,  per- 
haps five  or  six  inches  broad  towards  the  end,  with  a 
long  handle  richly  mounted  in  the  purest  bronze 
with  a  little  silver.  I  never  could  ascertain  till  1 
knew  him  what  it  had  been  used  for.  Even  the  old 
ex-king  of  Oude,  when  he  examined  it,  went  wrong 
on  it.  Not  so  John  Nano. 

"  I  know  well  enough  what  that  knife  is.  I  have 
seen  it  before,  —  years  ago.  It  is  very  old,  and  it  was 
long  in  use ;  it  was  the  knife  used  by  the  public  ex- 
ecutioner in  Bhotan.  It  is  Bhotanl." 

By  the  knife  hangs  the  ivory-handled  court-dagger 
which  belonged  to  Francis  II.  of  France,  the  first 
husband  of  Mary  Queen  of  Scots.  I  wonder  which 
could  tell  the  strangest  story  of  the  past ! 

"  It  has  cut  off  many  a  head,"  said  John  Nano , 
"  and  I  have  seen  it  before  !  " 

I  do  not  think  that  I  have  gone  too  far  in  attaching 
importance  to  the  gypsy  legend  of  the  origin  of  the 
word  chen-Jcan  or  zing  an.  It  is  their  own,  and 
therefore  entitled  to  preference  over  the  theories  of 
mere  scholars;  it  is  Indian  and  ancient,  and  there 
is  much  to  confirm  it.  When  I  read  the  substance  of 
this  chapter  before  the  Philological  Society  of  Lon- 
don, Prince  Lucien  Bonaparte,  — who  is  beyond  ques- 
tion a  great  philologist,  and  one  distinguished  for 
vast  research,  —  who  was  in  the  chair,  seemed,  in  his 
fiomments  on  my  paper,  to  consider  this  sun  and 


344  THE   ORIGIN  OF  THE   GYPSIES. 

moon  legend  as  frivolous.  And  it  is  true  enough 
that  German  symbolizers  have  given  us  the  sun  myth 
to  such  an  extent  that  the  mere  mention  of  it  in 
philology  causes  a  recoil.  Then,  again,  there  is  the 
law  of  humanity  that  the  pioneer,  the  gatherer  of 
raw  material,  who  is  seldom  collector  and  critic  to- 
gether, is  always  assailed.  Columbus  always  gets 
the  chains  and  Amerigo  Vespucci  the  glory.  But 
the  legend  itself  is  undeniably  of  the  gypsies  and 
Indian. 

It  is  remarkable  that  there  are  certain  catch-words, 
or  test- words,  among  old  gypsies  with  which  they  try 
new  acquaintances.  One  of  these  is  kekkdvi,  a  kettle ; 
another,  chinamangrl>  a  bill-hook,  or  chopper  (also  a 
letter),  for  which  there  is  also  another  word.  But  I 
have  found  several  very  deep  mothers  in  sorcery  who 
have  given  me  the  word  for  sun,  kam,  as  a  precious 
secret,  but  little  known.  Now  the  word  really  is  very 
well  known,  but  the  mystery  attached  to  it,  as  to  chone 
or  shule,  the  moon,  would  seem  to  indicate  that  at  one 
time  these  words  had  a  peculiar  significance.  Once 
the  darkest-colored  English  gypsy  I  ever  met,  wish- 
ing to  sound  the  depth  of  my  Romany,  asked  me  for 
the  words  for  sun  and  moon,  making  more  account 
of  my  knowledge  of  them  than  of  many  more  far  less 
known. 

As  it  will  interest  the  readerj  I  will  here  give  the 
ballad  of  the  sun  and  the  moon,  which  exists  both  in 
Romany  and  Roumani,  or  Roumanian,  in  the  trans- 
lation which  I  take  from  "A  Winter  in  the  City  of 
Pleasure"  (that  is  Bucharest),  by  Florence  K.  Berger, 
—  a  most  agreeable  book,  and  one  containing  two 
chapters  on  the  Tzigane,  or  gypsies. 


THE  ORIGIN  OF  THE   GYPSIES.  345 


THE  SUN  AND  THE  MOON. 

Brother,  one  day  the  Sun  resolved  to  marry.  Dur* 
ing  nine  years,  drawn  by  nine  fiery  horses,  he  had 
rolled  by  heaven  and  earth  as  fast  as  the  wind  or  a 
flying  arrow. 

But  it  was  in  vain  that  he  fatigued  his  horses.  No- 
where could  he  find  a  love  worthy  of  him.  Nowhere 
in  the  universe  was  one  who  equaled  in  beauty  his 
sister  Helen,  the  beautiful  Helen  with  silver  tresses. 

The  Sun  went  to  meet  her,  and  thus  addressed  her: 
"My  dear  little  sister  Helen,  Helen  of  the  silver 
tresses,  let  us  be  betrothed,  for  we  are  made  for  one 
another. 

"  We  are  alike  not  only  in  our  hair  and  our  feat- 
ures, but  also  in  our  beauty.  I  have  locks  of  gold, 
and  thou  hast  locks  of  silver.  My  face  is  shining  and 
splendid,  and  thine  is  soft  and  radiant." 

"  O  my  brother,  light  of  the  world,  thou  who  art 
pure  of  all  stain,  one  has  never  seen  a  brother  and 
sister  married  together,  because  it  would  be  a  shame- 
ful sin." 

At  this  rebuke  the  Sun  hid  himself,  and  mounted 
up  higher  to  the  throne  of  God,  bent  before  Him,  and 
spoke :  — 

"  Lord  our  Father,  the  time  has  arrived  for  me  to 
wed.  But,  alas !  I  cannot  find  a  love  in  the  world 
worthy  of  me  except  the  beautiful  Helen,  Helen  of 
rhe  silver  hair  !  " 

God  heard  him,  and,  taking  him  by  the  hand,  led 
him  into  hell  to  affright  Lis  heart,  and  then  into 
paradise  to  enchant  his  soul. 

Then  He  spake  to  him,  and  while  He  was  speaking 


346  THE  ORIGIN  OF  THE   GYPSIES. 

the  Sun  began  to  shine  brightly  and  the  clouds  passed 
over : — 

"  Radiant  Sun  !  Thou  who  art  free  from  all  stain, 
tliou  bast  been  through  hell  and  hast  entered  para- 
dise. Choose  between  the  two." 

The  Sun  replied,  recklessly,  "  I  choose  hell,  if  I 
may  have,  for  a  life,  Helen,  Helen  of  the  shining 
silver  hair." 

The  Sun  descended  from  the  high  heaven  to  his 
sister  Helen,  and  ordered  preparation  for  his  wedding. 
He  put  on  her  forehead  the  waving  gold  chaplet  of 
the  bride,  he  put  on  her  head  a  royal  crown,  he  put 
on  her  body  a  transparent  robe  all  embroidered  with 
fine  pearls,  and  they  all  went  into  the  church  to- 
gether. 

But  woe  to  him,  and  woe  to  her  !  During  the 
service  the  lights  were  extinguished,  the  bells  cracked 
while  ringing,  the  seats  turned  themselves  upside 
down,  the  tower  shook  to  its  base,  the  priests  lost 
their  voices,  and  the  sacred  robes  were  torn  off  their 
backs. 

The  bride  was  convulsed  with  fear.  For  suddenly, 
woe  to  her!  an  invisible  hand  grasped  her  up,  and, 
having  borne  her  on  high,  threw  her  into  the  sea, 
where  she  was  at  once  changed  into  a  beautiful  silver 
fish. 

The  Sun  grew  pale  and  rose  into  the  heaven.  Then 
descending  to  the  west,  he  plunged  into  the  sea  to 
search  for  his  sister  Helen,  Helen  of  the  shining 
silver  hair. 

However,  the  Lord  God  (sanctified  in  heaven  and 
upon  the  earth)  took  the  fish  in  his  hand,  cast  it 
forth  into  the  sky,  and  changed  it  anew  into  the 
moon. 


THE   ORIGIN  OF  THE   GYPSIES.  347 

Then  He  spoke.  And  while  God  was  speaking 
the  entire  universe  trembled,  the  peaks  of  the  mount- 
ains bowed  down,  and  men  shivered  with  fear. 

"  Thou,  Helen  of  the  long  silver  tresses,  and  tliou 
resplendent  Sun,  who  are  both  free  from  all  stain,  I 
condemn  you  for  eternity  to  follow  each  other  with 
your  eyes  through  space,  without  being  ever  able  to 
meet  or  to  reach  each  other  upon  the  road  of  heaven. 
Pursue  one  another  for  all  time  in  traveling  around 
the  skies  and  lighting  up  the  world." 

Fallen  from  a  high  estate  by  sin,  wicked,  and  there- 
fore wandering  :  it  was  with  such  a  story  of  being 
penitent  pilgrims,  doomed  for  a  certain  space  to  walk 
the  earth,  that  the  gypsies  entered  Europe  from  In- 
dia, into  Islam  and  into  Christendom,  each  time  modi- 
fying the  story  to  suit  the  religion  of  the  country 
which  they  invaded.  Now  I  think  that  this  sun,  and 
moon  legend  is  far  from  being  frivolous,  and  that  it 
conforms  wonderfully  well  with  the  famous  story 
which  they  told  to  the  Emperor  Sigismund  and  the 
Pope  and  all  Europe,  that  they  were  destined  to 
wander  because  they  had  sinned.  When  they  first 
entered  Europe,  the  gypsies  were  full  of  these  leg- 
ends ;  they  told  them  to  everybody  ;  but  they  had 
previously  told  them  to  themselves  in  the  form  of 
the  Indian  sun  and  moon  story.  This  was  the  root 
whence  other  stories  grew.  As  the  tale  of  the  Wan- 
dering Jew  typifies  the  Hebrew,  so  does  this  of  the 
sun  and  moon  the  Romany. 


A  GYPSY  MAGIC  SPELL. 


THERE  is  a  meaningless  rhyme,  very  common 
among  children.  It  is  repeated  while  counting  off 
those  who  are  taking  part  in  a  game,  and  allotting  to 
each  a  place.  It  is  as  follows :  — 

"  Ekkeri  akkery  u-kery  an 
Fillisi',  follasy,  Nicolas  John 
Queebee-quabee  —  Irishman. 
Stingle  'era  —  stangle  'em  —  buck !  " 

With  a  very  little  alteration  in  sounds,  and  not  more 
than  children  make  of  these  verses  in  different  places, 
this  may  be  read  as  follows :  — 

"  'Ekkeri,  akai-ri,  you  kair  —  an. 
Filissin  follasy.     Nakelas  ja'n. 
Kivi,  kavi.     Irishman. 
Stini  —  stani  —  buck  !  " 

This  is  nonsense,  of  course,  but  it  is  Romany,  or 
gypsy,  and  may  be  translated  :  — 

"  First  —  here  —  you  begin. 
Castle  —  gloves.     You  don't  play.     Go  on  I 
Kivi  —  kettle.     How  are  you  ? 
Stini  —  buck  —  buck." 

The  common  version  of  the  rhyme  begins  with .  — 

"  One  'eri  —  two-ery,  e'kkeri  — an." 

But  one-ry  is  the  exact  translation  of  e'kkeri ;  ek  or 
yek  being  one.  And  it  is  remarkable  that  in 


A    GYPSY  MAGIC  SPELL.  349 

"  Hickory  dickory  dock, 
The  rat  ran  up  the  clock ; 
The  clock  struck  one, 
And  down  he  run, 
Hickory  dickory  dock." 

We  have  hickory  or  ekkeri  again,  followed  by  a 
significant  one.  It  may  be  observed  that  while,  the 
first  verses  abound  in  Romany  words,  I  can  find  no 
trace  of  any  in  other  child-rhymes  of  the  kind.  It  is 
also  clear  that  if  we  take  from  the  fourth  line  the 
ingle  'em,  angle  'em,  evidently  added  for  mere  jingle, 
there  remains  stem  or  stani,  "a  buck,"  followed  by 
the  very  same  word  in  English. 

With  the  mournful  examples  of  Mr.  Bellenden 
Kerr's  efforts  to  show  that  all  our  old  proverbs  and 
tavern  signs  are  Dutch,  and  Sir  William  Betham's 
Etruscan-Irish,  I  should  be  justly  regarded  as  one  of 
the  too  frequent  seekers  for  mystery  in  moonshine  if 
I  declared  that  I  positively  believed  this  to  be  Rom- 
any. Yet  it  is  possible  that  it  contains  gypsy  words, 
especially  u  fillissi,'  follasy,"  which  mean  exactly 
chdteau  and  gloves,  and  I  think  it  not  improbable 
that  it  was  once  a  sham  charm  used  by  some  Romany 
fortune-teller  to  bewilder  Gorgios.  Let  the  reader 
imagine  the  burnt-sienna  wild-cat  eyed  old  sorceress 
performing  before  a  credulous  farm-wife  and  her 
children  the  great  ceremony  of  hakk'ni  pdnki,  which 
Mr.  Borrow  calls  hoklcani  boro,  but  for  which  there  is  a 
far  deeper  name,  —  that  of  the  great  secret,  —  which 
even  my  best  friends  among  the  Romany  tried  to  con- 
ceal from  me.  This  feat  is  performed  by  inducing 
some  woman  of  largely  magnified  faith  to  believe  that 
there  is  hidden  in  her  house  a  magic  treasure,  which 
can  only  be  m;ide  to  come  to  hand  by  depositing  in 
the  cellar  another  treasure,  to  which  it  will  come  by 


350  A    GYPSY  MAGIC  SPELL. 

natural  affinity  and  attraction.  "  For  gold,  as  you  sees, 
my  tlcari,  draws  gold,  and  so  it  you  tics  up  all  your 
money  in  a  pocket-handkercher  and  leaves  it,  you '11 
find  it  doubled.  An'  wasn't  there  the  Squire's  lady, 
and  did  n't  she  draw  two  hundred  old  gold  guineas 
out  of  the  ground  where  they  'd  laid  in  a  old  grave, — 
and  only  one  guinea  she  gave  me  for  all  my  trouble; 
an'  I  hope  you  '11  do  better  by  the  poor  old  gypsy, 
my  deari ." 

The  gold  and  all  the  spoons  are  tied  up,  —  for,  as 
the  enchantress  observes,  there  may  be  silver  too,  — 
and  she  solemnly  repeats  over  it  magical  rhymes,  while 
the  children,  standing  around  in  awe,  listen  to  every 
word.  It  is  a  good  subject  for  a  picture.  Sometimes 
the  windows  are  closed,  and  candles  give  the  only 
light.  The  next  day  the  gypsy  comes  and  sees  how 
the  charm  is  working.  Could  any  one  look  under 
her  cloak  he  might  find  another  bundle  precisely 
resembling  the  one  containing  the  treasure.  She 
looks  at  the  precious  deposit,  repeats  her  rhyme 
again,  and  departs,  after  carefully  charging  the  house- 
wife that  the  bundle  must  not  be  touched  or  spoken 
of  for  three  weeks.  "  Every  word  you  tell  about  it, 
my-deari  will  be  a  guinea  gone  away."  Sometimes 
she  exacts  an  oath  on  the  Bible  that  nothing  shall 
be  said. 

Back  to  the  farmer's  wife  never  again.  After  three 
weeks  another  Extraordinary  instance  of  gross  credu- 
lity appears  in  the  country  paper,  and  is  perhaps  re- 
peated in  a  colossal  London  daily,  with  a  reference  to 
the  absence  of  the  school-master.  There  is  wailing 
and  shame  in  the  house,  —  perhaps  great  suffering, 
for  it  may  be  that  the  savings  of  years  have  been 
swept  away.  The  charm  has  worked. 


A   GYPSY  MAGIC  SPELL.  351 

But  the  little  sharp-eared  children  remember  it  and 
sing  it,  and  the  more  meaningless  it  is  in  their  ears 
the  more  mysterious  does  it  sound.  And  they  never 
talk  about  the  bundle,  which  when  opened  was  found 
to  contain  only  sticks,  stones,  and  rags,  without  re- 
peating it.  So  it  goes  from  mouth  to  mouth,  until, 
all  mutilated,  it  passes  current  for  even  worse  non- 
sense than  it  was  at  first.  It  may  be  observed,  how- 
ever, —  and  the  remark  will  be  fully  substantiated  by 
any  one  who  knows  the  language,  —  that  there  is  a 
Romany  turn  to  even  the  roughest  corners  of  these 
rhymes.  Kivi,  stingli,  stangli,  are  all  gypsyish.  But, 
as  I  have  already  intimated,  this  does  not  appear  in 
any  other  nonsense  verses  of  the  kind.  There  is  noth- 
ing of  it  in 

"  Intery,  mintery,  cutery  corn  "  — 

or  in  anything  else  in  Mother  Goose.  It  is  alone 
in  its  sounds  and  sense,  —  or  nonsense.  But  there  is 
not  a  wanderer  of  the  roads  who  on  hearing  it  would 
not  explain,  "  Rya,  there  's  a  great  deal  of  Romanes 
in  that  ere." 

I  should  also  say  that  the  word  na-kelas  or  n£-kelas, 
which  I  here  translate  differently,  was  once  explained 
to  me  at  some  length  by  a  gypsy  as  signifying  "not 
speaking,"  or  "keeping  quiet." 

Now  the  mystery  of  mysteries  of  which  I  have 
spoken  in  the  Romany  tongue  is  this.  The  hokkani 
boro,  or  great  trick,  consists  of  three  parts.  Firstly, 
the  telling  of  a  fortune,  and  this  is  to  pen  dukkerin  or 
pen  durkerin.  The  second  part  is  the  conveying  away 
of  the  property,  which  is  to  lei  dudikabin,  or  to  take 
lightning,  possibly  connected  with  the  very  old  Eng- 
lish slang  term  of  lien  lightment.  There  is  evidently 
a  great  confusion  of  words  here.  And  the  third  is  ta 


852  A   GYPSY  MAGIC  SPELL. 

"  chiv  o  manzin  aprS  lati"  or  to  put  the  oath  upon 
her,  which  explains  itself.  When  all  the  deceived  are 
under  oath  not  to  utter  a  word  about  the  trick,  the 
gypsy  mother  has  "a  safe  thing  of  it." 

The  hokkani  boro,  or  great  trick,  was  brought  by 
the  gypsies  from  the  East.  It  has  been  practiced  by 
them  all  over  the  world,  it  is  still  played  every  day 
somewhere.  This  chapter  was  written  long  ago  in 
England.  I  am  now  in  Philadelphia,  and  here  I  read 
in  the  "  Press "  of  this  city  that  a  Mrs.  Brown, 
whom  I  sadly  and  reluctantly  believe  is  the  wife  of 
an  acquaintance  of  mine,  who  walks  before  the  world 
in  other  names,  was  arrested  for  the  same  old  game 
of  fortune-telling  and  persuading  a  simple  dame  that 
there  was  treasure  in  the  house,  and  all  the  rest  of 
the  grand  deception.  And  Mrs.  Brown,  good  old 
Mrs.  Brown,  went  to  prison,  where  she  will  linger 
until  a  bribed  alderman,  or  a  purchased  pardon,  or 
some  one  of  the  numerous  devices  by  which  justice  is 
evaded  in  Pennsylvania,  delivers  her. 

Yet  it  is  not  a  good  country,  on  the  whole,  for 
hokkani  boro,  since  the  people  here,  especially  in 
the  rural  districts,  have  a  rough-and-ready  way  of  in- 
flicting justice  which  interferes  sadly  with  the  profits 
of  aldermen  and  other  politicians.  Sonic  \  .• 
in  Tennessee,  a  gypsy  woman  robbed  a  farmer  by  the 
great  trick  of  all  ho  was  worth.  Now  it  is  no  slander 
to  say  that  the  rural  folk  of  Tennessee  greatly  resem- 
ble Indians  in  certain  respects,  and  when  I  saw  thou- 
sands of  them,  during  the  war,  mustered  out  in  Nash- 
ville, I  often  thought",  as  I  studied  their  dark  brown 
.  high  cheek  hones,  and  lon^  straight  black  hair, 
that  the  American  is  indeed  reverting  to  the  abo- 
riginal type.  The  Tennessee  farmer  and  his  neigh 


A   GYPSY  MAGIC  SPELL.  353 

bors,  at  any  rate,  reverted  very  strongly  indeed  to 
the  original  type  when  robbed  by  the  gypsies,  for 
they  turned  out  all  together,  hunted  them  down,  and, 
having  secured  the  sorceress,  burned  her  alive  at  the 
stake.  And  thus  in  a  single  crime  and  its  punish- 
ment we  have  curiously  combined  a  world-old  Ori- 
ental offense,  an  European  Middle- Age  penalty  for 
witchcraft,  and  the  fierce  torture  of  the  red  Indians. 


SHELTA,   THE   TINKERS'   TALK. 


"  So  good  a  proficient  in  one  quarter  of  an  hour  that  I  can  drink 
with  any  tinker  in  his  own  language  during  my  life."  —  King  Henry 
the  Fourth. 

ONE  summer  day,  in  the  year  1876, 1  was  returning 
from  a  long  walk  in  the  beautiful  country  which  lies 
around  Bath,  when,  on  the  road  near  the  town,  I  met 
with  a  man  who  had  evidently  grown  up  from  child- 
hood into  middle  age  as  a  beggar  and  a  tramp.  I 
have  learned  by  long  experience  that  there  is  not  a 
so-called  "  traveler  "  of  England  or  of  the  world,  be 
he  beggar,  tinker,  gypsy,  or  hawker,  from  whom  some- 
thing cannot  be  learned,  if  one  only  knows  how  to 
use  the  test-glasses  and  proper  reagents.  Most  in- 
quirers are  chiefly  interested  in  the  morals  —  or  im- 
morals  —  of  these  nomads.  My  own  researches  as 
regards  them  are  chiefly  philological.  Therefore, 
after  I  had  invested  twopence  in  his  prospective  beer, 
I  addressed  him  in  Romany.  Of  course  he  knew  a 
little  of  it ;  was  there  ever  an  old  u  traveler  "  who 
did  not? 

''  But  we  are  givin'  Romanes  up  very  fast,  —  all  of 
us  is,"  lie  remarked.  "  It  is  a  gettin'  to  be  too  blown. 
Everybody  knows  some  Romanes  now.  But  there 
is  a  jib  that  ain't  blown,"  he  remarked  reflectively. 
"  Back  slang  an'  cantin'  an'  rhymin'  is  grown  vulgar, 


SHELTA,  THE  TINKERS'  TALK.  855 

and  Italian  always  ivas  the  lowest  of  the  lot ;  thieves 
kennick  is  genteel  alongside  of  organ-grinder's  lingo, 
you  know.  Do  yon  know  anythin'  of  Italian,  sir  ?  " 

"  I  can  rakker  it  pretty  flick  "  (talk  it  tolerably), 
was  my  reply. 

"  Well  I  should  never  a  penned  [thought]  sitch  a 
swell  gent  as  you  had  been  down  so  low  in  the  slums. 
Now  Romanes  is  genteel.  I  heard  there 's  actilly  a 
book  about  Romanes  to  learn  it  out  of.  But  as  for 
this  other  jib,  its  wery  hard  to  talk.  It  is  most  all 
Old  Irish,  and  they  calls  it  Shelter." 

This  was  all  that  I  could  learn  at  that  time.  It 
did  not  impress  me  much,  as  I  supposed  that  the 
man  merely  meant  Old  Irish.  A  year  went  by,  and 
I  found  myself  at  Aberystwith,  the  beautiful  sea- 
town  in  Wales,  with  my  friend  Professor  Palmer  — 
a  palmer  who  has  truly  been  a  pilgrim  outre-mer, 
even  by  Galilee's  wave,  and  dwelt  as  an  Arab  in  the 
desert.  One  afternoon  we  were  walking  together  on 
that  end  of  the  beach  which  is  the  antithesis  of  the 
old  Norman  castle ;  that  is,  at  the  other  extremity  of 
the  town,  and  by  the  rocks.  And  here  there  was  a 
little  crowd,  chiefly  of  young  ladies,  knitting  and 
novel-reading  in  the  sun,  or  watching  children  play- 
ing on  the  sand.  All  at  once  there  was  an  alarm, 
and  the  wholo  party  fled  like  partridges,  skurrying 
along  and  hiding  under  the  lee  of  the  rocks.  For  a 
great  rock  right  over  our  heads  was  about  to  be 
blasted.  So  the  professor  and  I  went  on  and  away, 
but  as  we  went  we  observed  an  eccentric  and  most 
miserable  figure  crouching  in  a  hollow  like  a  little 
cave  to  avoid  the  anticipated  fulling  stones. 

"  Dikk  o'  dovo  mush  adoi  a  yavverin  lester  kokero!  '' 
(Look  at  that  man  there,  hiding  himself !)  said  the 


356  SHELTA,   THE   TINKERS'   TALK. 

professor  in  Romanes.  He  wished  to  call  attention 
to  the  grotesque  figure  without  hurting  the  poor  fel- 
low's feelings. 

"  Yuv's  atrash  o' ye  laryia"  (He  is  afraid  of  the 
stones),  I  replied. 

The  man  looked  up.  "  I  know  what  you  're  say- 
ing, gentlemen.  That 's  Romany." 

"  Jump  up,  then,  and  come  along  with  us." 

He  followed.  We  walked  from  rock  to  rock,  and 
over  the  sand  by  the  sea,  to  a  secluded  nook  under  a 
cliff.  Then,  seated  around  a  stone  table,  we  began 
vDur  conversation,  while  the  ocean,  like  an  importu- 
nate beggar,  surfed  and  foamed  away,  rilling  up  the 
intervals  with  its  mighty  roaring  language,  which 
poets  only  understand  or  translate :  — 

"  Thus  far,  and  then  no  more  :  " 
Such  language  speaks  the  sounding  sea 
To  the  waves  upon  the  shore. 

Our  new  acquaintance  was  ragged  and  disreputa- 
ble. Yet  he  held  in  his  hand  a  shilling  copy  of 
"  Helen's  Babies,"  in  which  were  pressed  some  fern 
leaves. 

"  What  do  you  do  for  a  living?"  I  asked. 

"  Shelkin  gallopas  just  now,"  he  replied. 

"And  what  is  that?  " 

"  Selling  ferns.  Don't  you  understand  ?  That 's 
what  we  call  it  in  Minklers  Thari.  That 's  tinkers' 
language.  I  thought  as  you  knew  Romanes  you 
might  understand  it.  The  right  name  for  it  is  Shelter 
or  Shelta." 

Out  came  our  note-books  and  pencils.  So  this  was 
the  Shelter  of  which  I  had  heard.  Ho  was  promptly 
asked  to  explain  what  sort  of  a  language  it  was. 

44  Well,  gentlemen,  you  must  know  that  I  have  n<r 


SHELTA,   THE  TINKERS'  TALK.  357 

great  gift  for  languages.  I  never  could  learn  even 
French  properly.  lean  conjugate  the  verb  £tre, — 
that  is  all.  I'm  an  ignorant  fellow,  and  very  low. 
I  've  been  kicked  out  of  the  lowest  slums  in  White- 
chapel  because  I  was  too  much  of  a  blackguard  for 
'em.  But  I  know  rhyming  slang.  Do  you  know 
Lord  John  Russell  ?  " 

"  Well,  I  know  a  little  of  rhyming,  but  not  that." 

"  Why,  it  rhymes  to  bustle." 

"  I  see.     Bustle  is  to  pick  pockets." 

"Yes,  or  anything  like  it,  such  as  ringing  the 
changes." 

Here  the  professor  was  "  in  his  plate."  He  knows 
perfectly  how  to  ring  the  changes.  It  is  effected  by 
going  into  a  shop,  asking  for  change  for  a  sovereign, 
purchasing  some  trifling  article,  then,  by  ostensibly 
changing  your  mind  as  to  having  the  change,  so 
bewilder  the  shopman  as  to  cheat  him  out  of  ten 
shillings.  It  is  easily  done  by  one  who  understands 
it.  The  professor  does  not  practice  this  art  for  the 
lucre  of  gain,  but  he  understands  it  in  detail.  And 
of  this  he  gave  such  proofs  to  the  tramp  that  the 
latter  was  astonished. 

"  A  tinker  would  like  to  have  a  wife  who  knows  as 
much  of  that  as  you  do,"  he  remarked.  "  No  woman 
is  fit  to  be  a  tinker's  wife  who  can't  make  ten  shil- 
lings a  day  by  glantherin.  Grlantherin  or  glad'herin 
is  the  correct  word  in  Shelter  for  ringing  the  changes. 
As  for  the  language,  I  believe  it 's  mostly  Gaelic,  but 
it 's  mixed  up  with  Romanes  and  canting  or  thieves' 
slang.  Once  it  was  the  common  language  of  all  the 
old  tinkers.  But  of  late  years  the  old  tinkers'  fami- 
lies are  mostly  broken  up,  and  the  language  is  per- 
ishing." 


358 


SHELTA,   THE   TINKERS'   TALK. 


Then  he  proceeded  to  give  us  the  words  in  Shelta, 
or  Minklers  Thaii.     They  were  as  follows :  — 

Selling  ferns. 


Shelkin  gallopas, 

Soobli,  > 

Soobri,  ) 

Bewr, 

Gothlin  or  goch'thlin, 

Young  bewr, 

Durra,  or  derra, 

Pani, 

Stiff, 

Yack, 

Mush-faker, 

Mithani  (mithni), 

Ghesterman  (ghesti), 

Needi-mizzler, 

Dhmessy, 

Stall, 

Biyeghin, 


Biyeg  th'eenik, 

Crack, 

Monkery, 

Prat, 

1SY<<1  askan, 

Glantherin  (glad'herin), 


.  Brother,  friend  —  a  man. 

Woman. 

Child. 

Girl. 

Bread. 

Water  (Romany). 

A  warrant  (common  cant). 

A  watch  (cant,  i.  e.  bull's  eye, 

Tackt  an  eye  in  Romany). 

Umbrella  mender. 

Policeman. 

Magistrate. 

A  tramp. 

Cat. 

Go,  travel. 

Stealing. 

To  steal. 

To  steal  the  thing. 

A  stick. 

Country. 

Stop,  stay,  lodge. 

Lodging. 

Money,  swindling. 


This  word  has  a  very  peculiar  pronunciation. 


Sauni  or  sonni, 
Stn'puck  (reepuck), 
Shvpuck  lusk,          ) 
Luthrum's  gothlin,  j 
Kurrl)  yer  pee, 
Pee, 

Borers  and  jumpers, 
Borers, 


See. 

A  harlot. 

Son  of  a  harlot. 

Punch  your  head  or  faceu 
Face. 

Tinkers'  tools. 
Gimlets. 


SHELTA,  THE  TINKERS1  TALK.  359 

Jumpers,  Cranks. 

Ogles,  Eyes  (common  slang). 

Nyock,  Head. 

Nyock,  A  penny. 

Odd,  Two. 

Midgic,  A  shilling. 

Nyo(d)ghee,  A  pound. 

Sai,  sy,  Sixpence. 

Charrshom,  "I 

Cherrshorn,  >  A  crown. 

Tusheroon,  ) 

Tre-nyock,  Threepence. 

Tn'po-rauniel,  A  pot  of  beer. 

£hari'l    '  Talk. 

Bug,    | 

Can  you  thari  Shelter?   Can  you  bug  Shelta  ?   Can 
you  talk  tinkers'  language  ? 

Shelter,  shelta,  Tinker's  slang. 

Larkin,  Girl. 

Curious  as  perhaps  indicating  an  affinity  between 
the  Hindustani  larki,  a  girl,  and  the  gypsy  rakli. 

Snips,  Scissors  (slang). 

Dingle  fakir,  A  bell-hanger. 

Dunnovans,  Potatoes. 

Fay  (vulgarly  fee),  Meat. 

Our  informant  declared  that  there  are  vulgar  forma 
of  certain  words. 

Gladdher,  Ring  the  changes  (cheat  in 

change). 

"No   minkler  would  have   a  bewr  who  couldn't 
gladdher." 

Reesbin,  Prison. 

Tre-moon,  Three  months,  a  '  drag." 


860  SHELTA,  THE  TINKERS'   TALK. 

Rauniel, ) 

Runniel, ) 

Max,  Spirits  (slang). 

Chiv,  Kuife.    (Romany,  a  pointed 

knife,  i.  e.  tongue.) 
Thari,  To  speak  or  tell. 

"  I  tharied  the  soobri  I  sonnied  him."  (I  told  the 
man  I  saw  him.) 

Mushgraw. 

Our  informant  did  not  know  whether  this  word,  of 
Romany  origin,  meant,  in  Shelta,  policeman  or  mag- 
istrate. 
Scri,  scree,  To  write. 

Our  informant  suggested  scribe  as  the  origin  of  this 
word. 
Reader,  A  writ. 

"  You  're  readered  soobri."  (You  are  put  in  the 
"Police  Gazette,"  friend.) 

Our  informant  could  give  only  a  single  specimen 
of  the  Shelta  literature.  It  was  as  follows  :  — 

"  My  name  is  Barney  Mucafee, 

With  my  borers  ami  junipers  down  to  my  thee  (thigh), 
An*  it 's  forty  miles  I  've  come  to  kerrb  yer  pee." 

This  vocabulary  is,  as  he  declared,  an  extremely 
imperfect  specimen  of  the  language.  He  did  not 
claim  to  speak  it  well.  In  its  purity  it  is  not  mingled 
with  Romany  or  thieves'  slang.  Perhaps  some  stu- 
dent of  English  dialects  may  yet  succeed  in  recover- 
ing it  all.  The  pronunciation  of  many  of  the  words  is 
singular,  and  very  different  from  English  or  Romany. 

Just  as  the  last  word  was  written  down,  there  came 
up  a  woman,  a  female  tramp  of  the  most  hardened 


SHELTA,   THE  TINKERS'  TALK.  361 

kind.  It  seldom  happens  that  gentlemen  sit  down  in 
familiar  friendly  converse  with  vagabonds.  When 
they  do  they  are  almost  always  religious  people,  anx- 
ious to  talk  with  the  poor  for  the  good  of  their  souls. 
The  talk  generally  ends  with  a  charitable  gift.  Such 
was  the  view  (as  the  vagabond  afterwards  told  us) 
which  she  took  of  our  party.  I  also  infer  that  she 
thought  we  must  be  very  verdant  and  an  easy  prey. 
Almost  without  preliminary  greeting  she  told  us  that 
she  was  in  great  straits,  —  suffering  terribly,  —  and 
appealed  to  the  man  for  confirmation,  adding  that  if 
we  would  kindly  lend  her  a  sovereign  it  should  be 
faithfully  repaid  in  the  morning. 

The  professor  burst  out  laughing.  But  the  fern- 
collector  gazed  at  her  in  wrath  and  amazement. 

"  I  say,  old  woman,"  he  cried  ;  "  do  you  know  who 
you're  rakkerin  [speaking]  to?  This  here  gentleman 
is  one  of  the  deepest  Romany  ryes  [gypsy  gentlemen] 
a-going.  And  that  there  one  could  gladdher  you  out 
of  your  eye-teeth." 

She  gave  one  look  of  dismay,  —  I  shall  never  forget 
that  look,  —  and  ran  away.  The  witch  had  chanced 
upon  Arbaces.  I  think  that  the  tramp  had  been  in 
his  time  a  man  in  better  position.  He  was  possibly 
a  lawyer's  clerk  who  had  fallen  into  evil  ways.  He 
spoke  English  correctly  when  not  addressing  the  beg- 
gar woman.  There  was  in  Aberystwith  at  the  same 
time  another  fern-seller,  an  elderly  man,  as  wretched 
and  as  ragged  a  creature  as  I  ever  met.  Yet  he 
also  spoke  English  purely,  and  could  give  in  Latin 
the  names  of  all  the  plants  which  he  sold.  I  have  al- 
ways supposed  that  the  tinkers'  language  spoken  of 
by  Shakespeare  was  Romany ;  but  I  now  incline  to 
think  it  may  have  been  Shelta. 

passed,  and   "  the  levis  grene "  had  fallen 


862  SHELTA,   THE   TINKERS'   TALK. 

thrice  from  the  trees,  and  I  had  crossed  the  sea  and 
was  in  my  native  city  of  Philadelphia.  It  was  a 
great  change  after  eleven  years  of  Europe,  during 
ten  of  which  I  had  "  homed,"  as  gypsies  say,  in  Eng- 
land. The  houses  and  the  roads  were  old-new  to  me  ; 
there  was  something  familiar-foreign  in  the  voices 
and  ways  of  those  who  had  been  my  earliest  friends ; 
the  very  air  as  it  blew  hummed  tunes  which  had  lost 
tones  in  them  that  made  me  marvel.  Yet  even  here 
I  soon  found  traces  of  something  which  is  the  same 
all  the  world  over,  which  goes  ever  on  "  as  of  ever," 
and  that  was  the  wanderer  of  the  road.  Near  the  city 
are  three  distinct  gypsyries,  where  in  sumrner-time 
the  wagon,  and  the  tent  may  be  found  ;  and  ever  and 
anon,  in  my  walks  about  town,  I  found  interesting 
varieties  of  vagabonds  from  every  part  of  Europe. 
Italians  of  the  most  Bohemian  type,  who  once  had 
been  like  angels,  —  and  truly  only  in  this,  that  their 
visits  of  old  were  few  and  far  between,  —  now  swarmed 
as  fruit  dealers  and  boot-blacks  in  every  lane ;  Ger- 
mans were  of  course  at  home ;  Czechs,  or  Slavs,  sup- 
posed to  be  Germans,  gave  unlimited  facilities  for 
Slavonian  practice  ;  while  tinkers,  almost  unknown  in 
1860,  had  in  1880  become  marvelously  common,  and 
strange  to  say  were  nearly  all  Austrians  of  different 
kinds.  And  yet  not  quite  all,  and  it  was  lucky  for  me 
they  were  not.  For  one  morning,  as  I  went  into  the 
large  garden  which  lies  around  the  house  wherein  I 
wone,  I  heard  by  the  honeysuckle  and  grape-vine  a 
familiar  sound, — suggest  ive  of  (he  road  and  Roma- 
nys  and  London,  and  all  that  is  most  traveler-esque. 
It  was  the  tan,  tap,  lap  of  a  hammer  and  the  clang 
of  tin,  and  1  knew  by  the  smoke  that  so  gracefully 
curled  at  the  end  of  the  garden  a  tinker  was  near. 
And  I  advanced  to  him,  and  as  he  glanced  up  and 


SHELTA,  THE   TINKERS'  TALK.  363 

greeted,  I  read  in  his  Irish  face  long  rambles  on  the 
roads. 

"  Good-morning ! " 

"  Good-mornin',  sorr !  " 

"  You  're  an  old  traveler  ?  " 

"I  am,  sorr." 

"  Can  you  rakker  Romanes  ?  " 

"I  can,  sorr! " 

"  Pen  yer  nav."     (Tell  your  name.) 

"  Owen ,  sorr." 

A  brief  conversation  ensued,  during  which  we  as- 
certained that  we  had  many  friends  in  common  in  the 
puro  tern  or  Ould  Country.  All  at  once  a  thought 
struck  me,  and  I  exclaimed,  — 

"  Do  you  know  any  other  languages  ?  " 

"  Yes,  sorr :  Ould  Irish  an'  Welsh,  an'  a  little 
Gaelic." 

"That 'sail?" 

"  Yes,  sorr,  all  av  thim." 

44  All  but  one?" 

"  An'  what 's  that  wan,  sorr  ?  " 

"Can  you  thari  shelta,  subll?" 

No  tinker  was  ever  yet  astonished  at  anything.  If 
he  could  be  he  would  not  be  a  tinker.  If  the  coals 
in  his  stove  were  to  turn  to  lumps  of  gold  in  a  twinkle, 
be  would  proceed  with  leisurely  action  to  rake  them 
out  and  prepare  them  for  sale,  and  never  indicate  by 
a  word  or  a  wink  that  anything  remarkable  had  oc- 
curred. But  Owen  the  tinker  looked  steadily  at  me 
for  an  instant,  as  if  to  see  what  manner  of  man  I 
might  be,  and  then  said,  — 

"  Shelta,  is  it  ?  An'  I  can  talk  it.  An'  there  's  not 
six  min  livin'  as  can  talk  it  as  I  do." 

"  Do  you  know,  I  think  it 's  very  remarkable  that 
you  can  talk  Shelta." 


864 


SHELTA,   TEE  TINKERS'   TALK. 


"An'  begorra,  I  think  it 's  very  remarkable,  sorr, 
that  ye  should  know  there  is  such  a  language." 

"  Will  you  give  me  a  lesson  ?  " 

"Troth  I  will." 

I  went  into  the  house  and  brought  out  a  note-book. 
One  of  the  servants  brought  me  a  chair.  Owen 
went  on  soldering  a  tin  dish,  and  I  proceeded  to  take 
down  from  him  the  following  list  of  words  in  Shelta : 


Theddy, 

Strawn, 

Blyhunka, 

Leicheen, 

Soobli, 

Binny  soobli, 

Binny, 

Chimmel, 

Gh'ratha,  grata, 

Griffin,  or  gruffin, 

Respes, 

Gullemnocks, 

Grascot, 

Skoich,  or  skoi, 

Numpa, 

Gorhead,  or  godhed, 

Merrih, 

Nyock, 

Graigh, 

Kaine,  or  kyni, 

Melthog, 

Medthel, 

Gunnels, 

Faihe,  or  feye*, 

Muogh, 

Miesli,  misli, 

Mailyas,  or  moillhas, 


Fire  (theinne.     Irish). 
Tin. 
Horse. 
Girl. 

Male,  man. 
Boy. 
Small, 
Stick. 
Hat. 
Coat. 
Trousers. 
Shoes. 
Waistcoat. 
Button. 

Sovereign,  one  pound. 
Money. 
Nose  (  ?  ). 
Head. 
Hair. 

Ears  (Romany,  lean), 
Inner  shirt. 
Black. 
Potatoes. 

Meat  (feoil     Gaelic). 
Pig  (muck.  Irish). 
To  go  (origin  of  "  mizzle  "?) 
Fingers  (meirleach,  stealera, 
Gaelic). 


SHELTA,  THE  TINKERS'   TALK. 


865 


Shaidyog, 

Respun, 

Shoich, 

Alemnoch, 

Raglan,  or  reglan, 

Goppa, 

Terry, 

Khoi, 

Chimmes  (compare  chimmel), 

Mailyas, 

Koras, 

Skoihopa, 

Bulla  (ull  as  in  gull), 

Than, 

Mush, 

Lyeskeu  cherps, 

Loshools, 

Dainoch, 
Chaldroch, 

Bog, 

Masheen, 

Cam  bra, 

Laprogh, 

Kaldthog, 

Rumogh, 

Kiena, 

Rawg, 

Gullemnoch, 

An  alt, 

Amilken, 

D'erri, 

R'ghoglin  (gogh'leen, 


Policeman. 

To  steal. 

Water,  blood,  liquid. 

Milk. 

Hammer. 

Furnace,  smith    (gobha,     a 

smith.     Gaelic). 
A  heating-iron. 
Pincers. 
Wood  or  stick. 
Arms. 

Legs  (cos,  leg.     Gaelic). 
Whisky. 
A  letter. 
Word,  language. 
Umbrella  (slang). 
Telling  fortunes. 
Flowers  (lus,  herb  or  flower  ? 

Gaelic). 
To  lose. 
Knife      {caldock,      sharply 

pointed.     Gaelic). 
To  get. 
Cat. 
Dog. 

Goose,  duck. 
Hen. 
Egg. 
House  (ken,  old  gypsy  and 

modern  cant). 
Wagon. 
Shoes. 

To  sweep,  to  broom. 
To  wash. 
Bread. 
To  laugh. 


366               SHELTA,  THE   TINKERS'   TALK. 

Kriidyin,  To  stop,  stay,  sit,  lodge,  re- 
main. 

Oura,  Town. 

Lashool,  Nice  (lachool  Irish). 

Molnni,  or  moryeni,  Good  (min,  pleasant.  Gae- 
lic). 

Moryenni  yook,  Good  man. 

Gyami,  Bad  (cam.     Gaelic). 

Probably  the  origin  of  the  common  canting  term 
gammy,  bad. 

Ishkimmisk,  Drunk  (misgeach.     Gaelic) 

Koglan,  A  four-wheeled  vehicle. 

Lorch,  A  two-wheeled  vehicle. 

Smuggle,  Anvil. 

Granya,  Nail. 

Riaglon,  Iron. 

Guslmk,  Vessel  of  any  kind. 

Tedhi,  the'di,  Coal ;  fuel  of  any  kind. 

Grawder,  Solder. 

Tanyok,  Halfpenny. 

(Query  taniy  little,  Romany,  and  nyok,  a  head.) 

Chlorhin,  To  hear. 

Sunain,  To  see. 

Salkaneoch,  To  taste,  take. 

Mailyen,  To   feel    (cumail,  to    hold 

Gaelic). 

Crowder,  String. 

Sobye,  (?)   ^ 

Mislain,  Raining  (mizzle  ?). 

Goo-ope,  guop,  Cold. 

Skoichen,  Rain. 

Thomyok,  Magistrate. 

Shadyog,  Police. 

Bladliunky  Prison. 

Bogh,  To  get 


S HELTA,   THE  TINKERS'   TALK. 


367 


Salt, 

Arrested,  taken. 

Straihmed, 

A  year. 

Gotherna,  guttema, 

Policeman. 

[A  very  rare  old  word.] 

Dyukas,  or  Jukas, 

Gorgio,  Gentile  ;  one  not  of 

.  the  class. 

Misli, 

Coming,  to  come,  to  send. 

To  my-deal, 

To  me. 

Lycliyen, 

People. 

Graii  nis, 

Know. 

Skolaia, 

To  write. 

Skolaiyami, 

A  good  scholar. 

Nyok, 

Head. 

Lurk, 

Eye. 

Menoch, 

Nose. 

Glorhoch, 

Ear. 

Koris, 

Feet. 

Tashi  shingomai, 

To  read  the  newspaper. 

Gorheid, 

Money. 

Tomgarheid  (t.  e.  big  money), 

Gold. 

Skawfer,  skawper, 

Silver. 

Tomnumpa, 

Bank-note. 

Terri, 

Coal. 

Ghoi, 

Put. 

Nyadas, 

Table. 

Kradyin, 

Being,  lying. 

Tarry  in, 

Rope. 

Kor'heh, 

Box. 

Miseli, 

Quick. 

Krad'hyl, 

Slow. 

Th-ruddusk, 

Door. 

Khaihed, 

Chair  (khahir.  Irish' 

Bord, 

Table. 

Grainyog, 

Window. 

Riimog, 

Effs 

a  so 

Aidh, 

Butter. 

868  SHELTA,   THE  TINKERS'   TALK. 

Okonneh,  A  priest. 

Thus  explained  in  a  very  Irish  manner :  "  Okonneh, 
or  Koony,  is  a  sacred  man,  and  kunl  in  Romany  means 
secret.  An'  sacret  and  sacred,  sure,  are  all  the  same," 

Shliema,  Smoke,  pipe. 

Munches,  Tobacco. 

Khadyogs,  Stones. 

Yiesk,  Fish  (iasg.     Gaelic). 

Cab,  Cabbage. 

Cherpin,  Book. 

This  appears  to  be  vulgar.  Llyower  was  on  second 
thought  declared  to  be  the  right  word.  (Leabhar, 
Gaelic.) 

Misli  dainoch.  To  write  a  letter ;  to  write  ; 

that  is,  send  or  go. 

Misli  to  my  bewr,  Write  to  my  woman. 

Gritche,  Dinner. 

Gruppa,  Supper. 

Goihed,  To  leave,  lay  down. 

Lurks,  Eyes. 

Ainoch,  Thing. 

Clisp,  To  fall,  let  fall. 

Clishpen,  To  break  by  letting  fall. 

Guth,  gut,  Black. 

Gothni,  gachlin,  Child. 

Styemon,  Rat. 

Krepoch,  Cat. 

Grannien,  With  child. 

Loshui*  Sweet. 

Shum,  To  own. 

L'yogh,  To  lose, 

Crimum,  Sheep. 

Khadyog,  Stone. 

Nglou,  Nail. 


SHELTA,   THE  TINKERS'  TALK. 

Gial,  Yellow,  red. 

Talosk,  Weather. 

Laprogh,  Bird. 

Madel,  Tail. 

Carob,  To  cut. 

Lubran,  luber,  To  hit. 

Thorn,  Violently. 

Mish  it  thorn,  Hit  it  hard. 

Subli,  or  soobli,  Man    (siublach,   a   vagrant. 

Gaelic). 

There  you  are,  readers !  Make  good  cheer  of  it,  as 
Panurge  said  of  what  was  beyond  him.  For  what 
this  language  really  is  passeth  me  and  mine.  Of 
Celtic  origin  it  surely  is,  for  Owen  gave  me  every 
syllable  so  garnished  with  gutturals  that  I,  being 
even  less  of  one  of  the  Celtes  than  a  Chinaman,  have 
not  succeeded  in  writing  a  single  word  according  to 
his  pronunciation  of  it.  Thus  even  Minklers  sounds 
more  like  minkias,  or  piJcias,  as  he  gave  it. 

To  the  foregoing  I  add  the  numerals  and  a  few 
phrases :  — 

Hain,  or  heen,  One. 

Do,  Two. 

Tri,  Three. 

Ch'air,  or  k'hair,  Four. 

Good,  Five. 

She,  or  shay,  Six. 

Schaacht,  or  schach',  Seven. 

Ocht,  Eight. 

Ayen,  or  nai,  Nine. 

Dy'ai,  djai,  or  dai,  Ten. 

Hinniadh,  Eleven. 

Do  yed'h,  Twelve. 

Trin  yedh,  Thirteen. 

K'hair  yedh,  etc.,  Fourteen,  etc. 

24 


370  SHELTA,  THE  TINKERS'  TALK. 

Tat  'th  chesin  ogorasa,  That  belongs  to  me. 

Grannis  to  my  deal,  It  belongs  to  me. 

Dioch  man  krady  in  in  this  I  am  staying  here. 

nadas, 

Tash  emilesh,  He  is  staying  there. 

Boghin  the  brass,  Cooking  the  food. 

My  deal  is  mislin,  I  am  going. 

The    nidias    of    the    kiena,  The    people    of    the   house 

don't  granny  what  we  're  don't  know  what   we  'ro 

a  tharyin,  saying. 

This  was  said  within  hearing  of  and  in  reference 
to  a  bevy  of  servants,  of  every  hue  save  white,  who 
were  in  full  view  in  the  kitchen,  and  who  were  mani- 
festly deeply  interested  and  delighted  in  our  inter- 
view, as  well  as  in  the  constant  use  of  my  note-book, 
and  our  conference  in  an  unknown  tongue,  since 
Owen  and  I  spoke  frequently  in  Romany. 

That  bhoghd  out  yer  mailya,     You  let  that  fall  from  your 

hand. 

I  also  obtained  a  verse  of  a  ballad,  which  I  may  not 
literally  render  into  pure  English  :  — 

"  Cosson  kailyah  con-urn  me  morro  sari, 
Me  gul  ogalyach  mir ; 
Kahet  manent  trasha  moroch 
Me  tu  sosti  mo  dlele." 

"  Coming  from  Galway,  tired  and  weary, 
I  met  a  woman ; 

I  '11  go  bail  by  this  time  to-morrow, 
You  '11  have  had  enough  of  me." 

Me  tu  sosti,  "  Thou  shalt  be  (of)  me,",  is  Romany, 
which  is  freely  used  in  Shelta. 

The  question  which  I  cannot  solve  is,  On  which  of 
the  Celtic  languages  is  this  jargon  based  ?  My  in- 
formant declares  that  it  is  quite  independent  of  Old 


5 HELTA,   THE   TINKERS'   TALK.  871 

Irish,  Welsh,  or  Gaelic.  In  pronunciation  it  appears 
ta  be  almost  identical  with  the  latter;  but  while  there 
are  Gaelic  words  in  it,  it  is  certain  that  much  exam- 
ination and  inquiry  have  failed  to  show  that  it  is  con- 
tained in  that  language.  That  it  is  "  the  talk  of  the 
ould  Picts  —  thim  that  built  the  stone  houses  like  bee- 
hives " —  is,  I  confess,  too  conjectural  for  a  philolo- 
gist. I  have  no  doubt  that  when  the  Picts  were 
suppressed  thousands  of  them  must  have  become 
wandering  outlaws,  like  the  Romany,  and  that  their 
language  in  time  became  a  secret  tongue  of  vagabonds 
on  the  roads.  This  is  the  history  of  many  such  lin- 
goes ;  but  unfortunately  Owen's  opinion,  even  if  it 
be  legendary,  will  not  prove  that  the  Painted  People 
spoke  the  Shelta  tongue.  I  must  call  attention,  how- 
ever, to  one  or  two  curious  points.  I  have  spoken  of 
Shelta  as  a  jargon ;  but  it  is,  in  fact,  a  language,  for 
it  can  be  spoken  grammatically  and  without  using 
English  or  Romany.  And  again,  there  is  a  corrupt 
method  of  pronouncing  it,  according  to  English, 
while  correctly  enunciated  it  is  purely  Celtic  in 
sound.  More  than  this  I  have  naught  to  say. 

Shelta  is  perhaps  the  last  Old  British  dialect  as 
yet  existing  which  has  thus  far  remained  undiscov- 
ered. There  is  no  hint  of  it  in  John  Camden  Hc*t- 
ten's  Slang  Dictionary,  nor  has  it  been  recognized  by 
the  Dialect  Society.  Mr.  Simson,  had  he  known  the 
"  Tinklers  "  better,  would  have  found  that  not  Rom- 
any, but  Shelta,  was  the  really  secret  language  which 
they  employed,  although  Romany  is  also  more  or  less 
familiar  to  them  till.  To  me.  there  is  in  it  something 
very  weird  and  strange.  I  cannot  well  say  why;  ifc 
seems  as  if  it  might  be  spoken  by  witches  and  talk- 
ing toads,  and  uttered  by  the  Druid  stones,  which  are 


872  SHELTA,   THE   TINKERS'   TALK. 

fabled  to  come  down  by  moonlight  to  the  water-sid\ 
to  drink,  and  who  will,  if  surprised  during  their 
walk,  answer  any  questions.  Anent  which  I  would 
fain  ask  my  Spiritualist  friends  one  which  I  have 
long  yearned  to  put.  Since  you,  my  dear  ghost- 
raisers,  can  call  spirits  from  the  vasty  deep  of  the 
outside-most  beyond,  will  you  not  —  having  many 
millions  from,  which  to  call  —  raise  up  one  of  the 
Pictish  race,  and,  having  brought  it  in  from  the 
Ewiglceit,  take  down  a  vocabulary  of  the  language  ? 
Let  it  be  a  lady  par  preference,  —  the  fair  being  by 
far  the  more  fluent  in  words.  Moreover,  it  is  prob- 
able that  as  the  Picts  were  a  painted  race,  woman 
among  them  must  have  been  very  much  to  the  fore, 
and  that  Madame  Rachels  occupied  a  high  position 
with  rouge,  enamels,  and  other  appliances  to  make 
them  young  and  beautiful  forever.  According  to 
Southey,  the  British  blue-stocking  is  descended  from 
these  woad-stained  ancestresses,  which  assertion  dimly 
hints  at  their  having  been  literary.  In  which  case, 
voild  noire  affaire  !  for  then  the  business  would  be 
promptly  done.  Wizards  of  the  secret  spells,  I  ad- 
jure ye,  raise  me  a  Pictess  for  the  sake  of  philology 
—  and  the  picturesque ! 


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